Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Immortal Ruan Ling-Yu | GFX50R | GFX50S


Apart from (or perhaps as a result of it) the "travel photography meets photojournalism" aesthetic that I am fond of working under, I also construct short projects that are best described as a combination of fantasy-fashion-cultural-historical Chinoiserie audio slideshows. These invariably are of stories- some imaginary and some based on facts- involving women wearing qi paos (or cheongsams).

Prior to my travels to Shanghai, I stumbled on the life story of Ruan Ling-Yu, a silent film star of the 1930s in her native China. She was known for a charismatic on-screen presence and a tragic off-screen life. One of the most prominent Chinese film stars of the 1930s, her exceptional acting ability and suicide at the age of 24 led her to become an icon of Chinese cinema.

I thought I'd try to produce a short "photo film" whilst in Shanghai, and made plans accordingly, soliciting the help of a local fashion photographer known as Yimu of TucanoVision and Yan Li, both friends who had helped me during previous trips to this megapolis. We agreed that the photo shoot would take place at the Shanghai Film Park in Chendun that had sets of urban 1930 Shanghai. Yimu's ample "Rolodex" provided Tian Yiyi; a model who would fit the persona of Ruan Ling-Yu.


Another impetus for producing this audio slideshow (also available on Vimeo), is the movie about Ling-Yu's life called Center Stage, starring the divine Maggie Cheung. She won the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Actress. The movie was produced by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan in 1991.