“A little” for a while: He captured Chinese -style poetry with the lens

“A little” for a while: He captured Chinese -style poetry with the lens

In 1978, John Sacusky was distinguished from two types of photography in the guidance manual of the exhibition “Mirror and Window” planned for the Museum of Modern Art, USA: one is a mirror that projected the internal emotion of photographers. Another One is the intention to explore windows that exist outside the outside world. If we use this to locate Laoan’s photography, he must belong to the latter.

Lao An, his real name Andre Cavalti, was born in the small town of Italy. In 1981, Lao An, a student at the University of Venice, came to China for the first time and settled in Nanjing. For most of the time, he has lived in Beijing, taking photos, filming, filming, drama, and musicals. He has also briefly used business.

Andrea Cavazzuti, Italian picture and video photographer, graduated from the Chinese Department of the University of Venice. In 1981, Hua has been studying in a short period of time and studied in Fudan the following year. In the 1970s, he was involved in photography, and then he devoted himself to video and images. He created a lot, involving all aspects of art society. The picture shows Laoan on the national road in the 1990s.

Although he has been active in the culture and art circle, there are not many people who know Lao An. It wasn’t until the publication of the new book that people suddenly discovered that Lao An had appeared in many iconic cultural events: he was the only photographer of Wang Xiaobo’s only interview video during his lifetime, and also a photographer of the movie “Infinite Movement” directed by Ning Yan. Essence In addition, he has collaborated with Lin Zhaohua’s drama “Richard III” and “New Story”, and has also filmed the story film “Band” and “Dance in the Room” with the lead singer of the new pants band Peng Lei.

Wang Xiaobo’s only interview video during his lifetime. The interviewers and the photographer are Laoan.

“China Rest: China in 1981-1984” is the first photography collection published by Laoan in China, which records what the Italian youth came at the beginning of the first sight. “He likes to gather the crowd -just as China happens every day, I don’t know why gathering -each has its own perfect layout. Tea buildings, brand rooms, beer houses, those young people who are just allowed to dress up happily. He can always catch the happiness of Chinese -style, and even the plastic models in the window are condensed with a happy smile in the 1980s. “Chen Danqing wrote in the preface of his writing” Eyes and Hearts “.

In fact, even in the 1980s, even from 1981 to 1984, it was special. The tight social state gradually loosen, and social life has shifted from collective to individual. We can clearly feel the transformation of people from Lao An’s photos -people’s expressions and postures are loose and leisurely, although there may be one or two faces with heavy hearts.

This is also the origin of the title “A little Best “-” Rest after standing up. Although people are unlikely to stand up and crooked, the relaxation of the body and mind is real. “(Gu Zheng)

“China Rest: China in 1981-1984”, [意] Lao An, single reading / casting culture | Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, November 2021.

After seeing these photos after forty years, Lao An said that he no longer remembers what happened in some photos at the time. In his opinion, photography is like taking notes. Once you are taken, that thing becomes that photo, which is fixed there, and frozen there.

Lao An, a foreigner, why can it catch the Chinese -style happiness and record the soothing poetry? The following is an exclusive interview with the Beijing News reporter.


Seeing Lao An is in his studio. Since the end of last year, because of the publishing of “A little”, he has frequently accepted interviews from various media, and there are some invitations of some podcasts. Lao An is basically not refused.

“You are the first reporter to discuss photography issues with me.” At the beginning of the interview, Lao An did not say a word to me. I smiled bitterly. If it was not because of it, I would definitely ask him some of the same questions: the relationship between him and Wang Xiaobo; how did he understand the words of the girl intellectuals played by Hong Huang in “Infinite Movement”; How will he recall Beijing cultural life in the 1990s …

Screenshot of the movie “Infinite”.

However, when these problems were asked by other media, there were not many room for me. And if you think about it, these issues have indeed nothing to do with his new book. Therefore, because of my slowness, I suddenly had a rare opportunity. I talked to him about China, his photography learning process in “A little Best”, and how he understood the art of photography. In a two -and -a -half -hour interview, we spent thirty minutes roaming in the 1980s under the lens. I was also thoroughly took a lesson “How to watch a photo”.

Lao An’s selfie.

We might as well start with the image in Laoan’s interpretation of the image in “A little Best”:

Talk about “A little”:

Those rare, short -lived moments

Nanjing, 1981 (Photography: Lao’an)

Beijing News: Why do you think they are standing on a chair?

Lao An

: It is definitely not for taking pictures, not the type of staircase shape. They stood neatly and their clothes were very uniform, and they looked into the distance together. You look at the two sculptures behind these people, the style of special socialism, such a slogan on the wall, which is rare in Italy.

Beijing News: I saw a row of people on the top of the building. Did you really forget what happened at the scene at the time?

Lao An: It should be watching a show. But I really forgot what it was.

Kunming, 1983 (Photography: Lao’an)

Beijing News: Why attract you at this moment?

: I like scenes with a stage feeling. You look at this photo, there is a child in the middle, there is a big fish next to it, the women in the left behind wearing a headscarf, the man in the right rear stands and stood. Later is the small sales department. At that time, it was called Yunye tobacco and alcohol and local production company. There were some customers next to the shop, carrying bags and bags to buy things. In a photo, so many things are happening, and a natural stage sense will be produced.

Shanghai, 1982 (Photography: Lao’an)

: Look at the portrait in this photo, a revolutionary person with a model scene, a historical figure, and some should be a star, but the second one on the right suddenly appeared a foreign child. I felt very magical at the time.

Beijing News: There is a sense of dislocation.

Xiamen, 1983 (Photography: Lao’an)

: Look at this photo again, a local snack bar in Xiamen. An advertising picture of a Nestle coffee suddenly appeared on the wall. I dare to be sure that Nestlé coffee should not have entered China yet. This image was copied by the owner. And the store does not sell coffee at all, but just feel like the image is foreign and looks good.

Beijing News: I remember there is another similar.

: There were many such decorations at the time. There are also some foreign toys, such as this:

: You see, the young man on the left dragged the toy with inflatable A Tongmu. Where did this toy come from? Is it his child?

Kunming, 1982 (Photography: Lao’an)

Beijing News: This modified version of the tricycle reminds me of the modified battery cars in Beijing Hutong.

: At the time, there were a lot of self -modified self -use tricycles. The bricks under the wheels, the pulled car, and the hung chain implies that the careful car owner attaches great importance to his car.

In fact, this age of age was very fresh and interesting for me at the time, but it was still common for the Chinese at the time. After decades, these photos have experienced jet lag, for the current Chinese. It may become very fresh and interesting again.

Beijing News: What do you feel about people in that era?

: At that time, everyone was elegant. Let’s look at the photos.

Hangzhou, 1983 (Photography: Lao’an)

: You see the two men squeezed on a stool in a grass, but they are not awkward at all, they are very engaged, and they are also very relaxed.

Qingdao, 1981 (Photography: Lao’an)

Beijing News: Calendar girl!

: Haha, the two girls in the photo, like sisters, holding their hands around the park, their expressions and lightness.

Xiamen, 1984 (Photography: Lao’an)

Beijing News: This photo reminds me of Lou Ye’s movie. Strangely, all the ballrooms at that time were all men, and only the seats with vague women here.

: Yes, the ballrooms at that time were all jumped by young men to young women. In fact, at this time, people’s clothes have begun to change, with such denim back pants.

Beijing News: Speaking of which, I am curious, how can you be hidden in the crowd when taking pictures?

: This is my skills (laughs). First of all, I will not make myself very conspicuous in the crowd, so I do not attract the attention of others. Secondly, I will use a tripod. If I use a tripod, I will stay in one place for a long time. Even if passersby noticed you at the beginning, you have been there, and they are slowly used to it.

Lao An also has a moment of noticing. For example, in Suzhou in 1982, the photographer of Lao’an and his peers was watching. The photo is provided by the respondent.

I am happy to find aimlessly

Beijing News: “Best” is your first collection of photography, which was shot in China from 1981 to 1984. Why did you choose to gather photography in this period?

: For me, from 1981 to 1984, it was a relatively clear, head and end time period. I have been the identity of students in those years. The earliest came to China was the summer of 1981. At that time, I was a student at the Chinese Department of the University of Venice. I came to Nanjing University to participate in a six -week short -term Chinese learning class. After the study class, I applied for a scholarship. From 1982 to 1984, I studied abroad at Fudan University.

Lao An during the period of studying abroad in Fudan University. The photo is provided by the respondent.

After graduating, I returned to Italy for a year of compulsory soldiers. After returning to China, I have been running around. I have changed my status several times. I lived in Hong Kong for a few years -although I ran to the Mainland when I was in Hong Kong, after all, after all, I ran to the Mainland, but after all, I ran to the Mainland, but after all, I ran to the Mainland, but after all I lived in Hong Kong and later settled in Beijing, because my life also did a lot of other things. So the overall look at it, from 1981 to 1984, it is relatively overall, and the time fragment that can be presented.

Beijing News: It has been decades since taking these photos. Why did you want to publish them after so long?

: There are many practical reasons. I came to China to bring a lot of film at the time, and the negatives were rinsed by myself. In those years, I have been taking pictures. After washing, I kept the film, but did not magnify. The time to return to Italy in the summer vacation is relatively short, and there is no time to really sort out. You also know the problem of photography. Only when you finally sort it out, you know what you have taken. If you do n’t sort it, there will be a lot of repeated photos. Because of the constant stimulus, I kept taking pictures until I intuitively had enough photos of a certain type of theme before I moved to the next theme.

After graduating from Fudan University, although I also came back to participate in some exhibitions, I have organized some photos, but they are not very thorough. Later, due to life, I still continued to take photos at work in Hong Kong, and then I later took videos. But at that time, scanning and map repair techniques were not too mature. I did not have a special dark house in China, so I put on hold for a period of time.

Of course, my heart has always been on this matter. By 1993, I took some previously enlarged negatives and held an exhibition with my good friend and photographer Olivo Balbiery at the Beijing Labor People’s Cultural Palace. This should be regarded as the only disclosure before this publication.

In 1993, the photography exhibition “Two Italian Photographers in China” held by Lao An and Oliva Balbiery in the Beijing Labor People’s Culture Palace. The photo is provided by the respondent.

Beijing News: Is there any criteria for choosing photos this time?

: Choosing is a very fun process, I have found a lot of memories that I have forgotten. To be honest, after so many years, many photos you want to say that I believe it is taken by others. Including some photos, I even forgot where I took it. (laugh)

Because of the epidemic, I took about a year and a half to choose photos. Add one for a while, and then minus one for a while. There is no particularly clear law and standards. If you insist on saying, it is what I recognize, and it is not shameful.

Beijing News: You have no clear laws and standards, which is also my reading experience. The entire collection of photography has no themes at all, and there is no region, just like roaming in different cities through photos.

:right. In fact, I didn’t want to describe a certain place or a certain state at all, what attracted me, or I thought it was a bit interesting, I took a picture.

Beijing News: Is this related to your understanding of photography?

:Yes. If it is placed in the perspective of a larger history of photography, I first came into contact with photography in the 1970s and the period when visual art just started to flourish. At that time, my favorite photographer, including Olivo Balbiery in Italy, Louis Jiri, Ivins in the United States, Lee Friedlander, Eugene Atget in France, etc. They did not care about particularly spectacular things, but followed, but they paid attention to, but followed. The changes in the environment, the urban suburbs of most people, the intervention of artificial lighting and advertising.

Photography of Italian photographer Guido Guidi. The photo is provided by the respondent.

In fact, in our days, most people lived in an environment without any characteristics. The place where I was born is not a big city like Venice, but an ordinary town in Italy. It is not the same as what you see in Italian movies. At that time, the living environment of most small Italian cities did not have much personality. The earliest photographers who attracted me were also depicting this type of life.

I remember that in the 1970s, John Szarkowski wrote an exhibition album “Mirror and Window: The American Photography since the 1960s” (Mirros and Windows: American Photography Since 1960). He distinguished two types of photography in it: the photo of the portrait of the artist, or let us understand the window of the world better. I must belong to the latter. From this point of view, the moment I caught me is always unexpected, I have never thought of it.

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Shanghai, 1982 (Photography: Lao’an)

“Mirror and Window” by John Satiki.

Beijing News: In fact, many Western photographers have shot China in different periods since the last century. Such as Briteson, Mark Lu Bu, Bruno Babe, etc. Of course, many of them are Magnum photographers, strictly news photography, with a strong nature of reporting. “A little” is more aimless, and it is even a bit like a foreigner.

Lao An

: Among the photographers in Magnum, I prefer Bresson. But it must be acknowledged that what I was shot with them was not a thing. Even if they are shooting everyday life, reporting photography and art photography is still two different things. It does n’t matter who does n’t like it.

Beijing News: What are the Western photographers who are similar to you in China?

: Similar to me, more accurately, I am similar to him, the Olivo Balbli I just mentioned. In addition, there have been Edward Birin Sky or photographer Mark Wolf from China’s shooting factories in the past few years. However, they are planned series of works. To explain a certain theory, I am happy to find it aimlessly. For most foreigners, China is a more troublesome country. The Magnum photographer you just mentioned, they usually come to China with translation, and some people help them arrange their schedule. And I am a student, walking around, playing, and shooting everywhere during the spare school.

Shanghai, 1997 (Photography: Olivo Balbli)

Beijing News: Many people commented that “A little Best” presents a passing 1980s. This is actually related to the results of high -speed urbanization in the past few decades: many cities have become homogeneous, gentlemanized, and lost their original locality. For you who have lived in China for forty years, what do you feel in the process of urbanization?

: I am from Italy. The changes in Italian cities are not as big as China, and some are partitions. The urbanization of Italy expands out, and the city center has always been protected well. If you live in the center of the city, you can still see the appearance of the fifteen century oil painting, but people have changed their clothing, and the others are basically the same as they are now. However, China’s urbanization covers the overall appearance from cities to the countryside, and the layout of most cities in China is not as radioactive as European, and the realization of urbanization is much stronger than Europe.

Another point is that China’s urbanization takes short time. On the one hand, it must be delayed before, and the government wants to quickly improve the city’s city capacity and infrastructure. But we all know that the style, characteristics, and aesthetics of each history in a city are different. The rapid urbanization brings is that all cities have been transformed, such as learning from Beijing and Shanghai. So now, whether it is going to the county or the provincial capital, the cities that they see are almost the same. This is very different from my feelings in China in the 1980s. At that time, whether it was first -tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, or Hangzhou, Suzhou, Kunming, etc., each city gave me different perceptions.

Beijing, 1990 (Photography: Lao’an)

The theme is secondary,

The important thing is the handling of the artist

Beijing News: Let’s talk about your experience. When did you contact photography at the earliest?

: Strictly speaking, I have never studied photography. My high school is a computer, and the university studies is sinology. The earliest contact with photography was considered in junior high school.

Three years of junior high school, our school will set up a less important manual class every year. I remember to repair old furniture in the first year, and everyone brought some broken furniture to repair. The second year is electronic technology, which is a bit similar to making electronic abacus. This experience also affected the major I chose later in high school. The third year is to learn to wash films in the dark room. At that time, I was fortunate to know Oliva Balbiery, and I happened to be his brother’s classmate.

Although I have not studied photography in the college, because I met Olivo very early, he took me to know the great photography masters such as Louji Jili. In my opinion, I have been a real master class. In addition, there was really no academic pressure at the time. I had a lot of free time every day. I read a lot of art, photography, and literary books to build and enrich my understanding of photography and art.

21 -year -old Lao An (Photography: Olivo Balbli)

Later, I was fortunate to participate in one of the most influential photography exhibitions in Italy in the twentieth century. The most famous Italian photography masters we know today are in it. I am the youngest exhibitors. The name of the exhibition is “Italy”, which is also a turning point in Italian photography. Since then, people have begun to pay attention to the theme of artificial landscapes and cities on the edge, which is similar to the “new terrain” photography movement.

Beijing News: Why is there such a turning point?

: It is related to the background of the time. On the one hand, Italy at that time was in a period of economic rejuvenation. Many Italians began to build their own houses. They used the aesthetics that traditional architects thought they were more “vulgar” to design and decorate their own homes. a big change. On the other hand, as we mentioned earlier, Italy entered the era of visual media in the 1970s. The prosperity of newspapers and advertising has brought many visual impacts.

From the perspective of art history, the earliest attention of art is the heroic and aristocratic life. By the 19th century, some artists began to pay attention to the sad fate of those who were particularly underlying and small people. Then in our era, the artist began to pay attention to a more intermediate theme -neither aristocracy nor the bottom, a bit similar to the middle class life.

Italy in the 1970s. The photo is provided by the respondent.

Beijing News: I think of you in the “Qihuo Dictionary” of “A little Best”: “In art, the theme is secondary, and the important thing is the handling of the artist.” You seem to be very disgusted with the excessive interpretation of photography art? How do you understand the photography of art categories?

: Share a fun thing with you. I returned to Italy from China at that time -most Italians had not been to China, and I knew very little about China. When I share some of the photos I took to several friends in the art world. After watching it, they said more than once to me: I’m sorry, I look at the theme. The feeling of this sentence is like a kind of insult to the photographer. It seems that the interesting part is only the theme, not the photographer’s shooting skills.

I said to them, do n’t be polite, I do n’t mind, I ’m going to shoot this theme. This is the background I wrote that paragraph. Just here, I show you a photo:

The left was taken by the Japanese photographer’s Tail Express and Chaotian Dengko, and the right was taken by Lao’an. The photo is provided by the respondent.

You see, it is also a theme. Can these two photos be the same? My observation is that people who respect the art of photography do not dare to tell the photographer that the theme you take is interesting. This is because you are an artist. No matter what the theme is shooting, it should be interesting, not because the theme itself is very interesting.

Living in the world of images,

We are still using text to understand the picture

Beijing News: We all know that photography is a modern art. In 1839, photography was born in Europe. At that time, many people also thought that photography impacted traditional art. French college painter Paul Delaroche even issued an assertion of “from today, the oil painting is dead” at the time. With the development of photography technology, people also began to shout “film photography is dead.” Today, with mobile phone photography and PS, many people have begun to doubt the artistic value of photography. In your opinion, what impact does the low threshold and popularization of photography technology have on the art of photography?

: I don’t think there is any substantial impact. Of course, from the film era to the digital age, the method of taking pictures of photographers must have changed. More and more ordinary people can take pictures, but the impact on the art of photography is small. This is like a few hundred years ago. There are very few literate people. Later, more and more people are literate, but good writers are still only a small number of people.

Of course, it is undeniable that the reduction of the threshold of photography must be removed from the original mystery of photography. Everyone knows what is going on and what effects will be, but there are still very few people who can make great photography works.

Photography of Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli. The photo is provided by the respondent.

Beijing News: In fact, we have lived in a world wrapped in images. Has the high degree of life and the image of the world have also changed our understanding of photography?

: I think the saddest point is that although we have lived in a world of images completely, our education is still text. So when we want to understand a painting, we still have to talk about it for a long time. This is deep in the process of my book this time.

Every time I go to the new book, I have to explain to everyone or other colleagues, and they will find your work interesting. The publisher, including this book, was also found to be interesting after working with me for half a year. I think this is a matter of education.

Beijing News: In addition to photography, you have also participated in many documentaries and cooperated with many film and drama directors. Can you talk about the creative experience of these different images / media?

: I have been interested in photography, literature and music. By the 1990s, there were some small, high -quality cameras that could be bought. I just wondered how to combine the content I was interested in to create. The method is the same as taking pictures. It is taken everywhere and accumulated a lot of materials, so there are many documentary, video and multimedia creation projects.

At that time, it happened to catch up with the trend of multimedia drama. I remember I also did the “Swan Lake” musical of the Central Ballet. All the scenery is gone, but use my image to replace the scene. The final effect is very good, but after that for a while, no one has done this type of creation.

Lin Zhaohua and I have collaborated on “Richard III” and “New Story”, which also uses some of the materials I made. In fact, whether it is a movie, a musical or a drama, my shooting angle is quite flat. The only thing that is different from taking pictures is that people are moving, and things are happening. Lin Zhaohua’s creative ideas are also very free and open. Basically, the actors are free to play. I also think of what materials can be used, so I cut it in. In the end, the director will make regular improvisations and become a reasonable masterpiece.

The drama “Richard III” scene photos. The photo is provided by the respondent.

Beijing News: Just now we mentioned that although living in a world of images, our education is still text. In your opinion, how should we learn to understand a photo?

: You still don’t let go of this problem. I think it is important to see and feel images without any prejudice. Of course not to look at it casually, but to look at the relationship between the overall space and the relationship between people and the environment. Then look at the depths of the photo, look at details, details and overall relationships. More professional is to look at the light and watch the flow of Guangying on the picture.

Although each of us can take pictures with mobile phones today, this has made young people lose the opportunity to understand photography. Few people understand the relationship between wide -angle and telephoto. If we use language to make an example, different light, different lenses, and different perspectives belong to the visual language, but today, everyone does not understand such a language. So it will be easily deceived by images.

Beijing News: The last question. What is your shooting plan next?

Lao An: I am most concerned about the relationship between online and offline. In the next documentary, I want to find some anchors and Internet celebrities, shoot their lives and places where their actual life, and explore the interaction between online and offline. See how he / they connect with the actual life. Of course, this is still a preliminary idea. Like I used to make a enthusiast or like Xu Xing, Song Zhuang and Pingnan, through some groups that integrated into the society, observed the protagonist, you can slowly discover and understand the atmosphere of the times, and even point out new possibilities.

In 2016, Lao An, who was filming a documentary. The photo is provided by the respondent.

Author | Qingqingzi

Edit | Qing Qingzi, Lu Wanting

School pair | Xue Jingning

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