Steven Harris the Director of M97 Gallery, is an American photographer who has lived in China for over ten years. His gallery, one of the first in Shanghai, is in a modern building set slightly away from the main hub of galleries on Moganshan Road. When I visited, the gallery had on a fantastic exhibition by a young photographer Chi Peng, presented to a very high standard the work depicted fantastical and surreal landscapes. M97 represents an impressive range of international photographers; and like the vast majority of galleries in China they are commercial, developing relationships with local and international collectors, as well as attending art fairs.
When I probed Steven about the challenges of trying to sell photography in China, he said he felt it was a universal problem because photography is perceived as easily accessible. With cameras being readily available, he suggests people have the tendency not to appreciate the skill and imagination that goes into creating a body of artistic work. It makes me think that the Victorian notion of the ‘authentic’ object exuding an aura of value is to some degree still prevalent in the way audiences evaluate artwork. www.m97gallery.com
Panda graffiti across the road from the gallery Lucy Keany