Pingyao International Photography Festival (2001)
Established in 2001 and Considered China’s Longest Running and Largest International Photo Festival
Established in 2001 Pingyao International Photography Festival is considered China’s Longest Running and Largest International Photo Festival. The PIP festival began as an attempt to place recent Chinese photography on a global context. PIP grew sharply in stature in 2002 when Gao Bo, a photographer and architectural designer, was invited to view a large section of new experimental work by Chinese artists. The results, though impressive to foreign critics, so dismayed local officials and conservative photo unionists that in 2003 the so-called conceptual photograph component was eliminated and replaced by a resurgence of historical, news, fashion, travel, and "beautiful scene" images. When it became clear the 2004 instalment of the PIP would follow the same model, Jullien withdrew to start an alternative event, an international biennial devoted exclusively to progressive fine-art photography, inaugurated in 2005 at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou.
By then, however, China's experimental photographers had gained international attention, and their newfound market viability liberated them to pursue their conceptual projects without undue livelihood concerns. In 2004 University of Chicago scholar Wu Hung (whose expertise encompasses both classical and contemporary Chinese art) and Christopher Phillips, curator at the International Center of Photography in New York, co-organized the groundbreaking Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, a sixty-artist survey that toured seven international venues over a two-year period. Despite Chinese photography's now global stage, the PIP Festival remains a relevant forum for the discussion and presentation of new photography each year.