Lin Shu: Pagoda

Curator: Duan Yuting

© Lin Shu

© Lin Shu

© Lin Shu

In 2017, I started working on the "Pagoda" series. It was all very sudden, as if the inspiration came to me instantly, consequently I realized that the topic deserved in-depth research. The process of photographing pagodas means reconsidering and rediscovering photography. In my photographic pursuit, I gradually slide into abstraction and emptiness but the pagoda pulls me back to the real world.

The reason why I am so engrossed with Pagodas’ traditional architecture is my ongoing interest in mysticism. When facing the pagoda, I often have the ecstatic feeling that it does not belong to the real world. Unique and colossal, the building exceeds functional and utilitarian values of architecture. Its value is symbolic, a representation of Buddha and faith. In this sense, it is the material expression of the spiritual, an echo of my own pursuit as a photographer.

Since the series "Toxic", I have been paying more and more attention to the relationship between Chinese traditional art and contemporary photography. However, I do not wish to use photography as a tool to reevaluate or validate ancient Chinese texts according to Western academic standards, nor do I wish to create photographic icons emulating the "traditional image". My wish is to express through photography a sense of spirituality that is running through my body, feelings, perception, aesthetic and life experience. I don’t consider my process as a method but as an experience, the pure synthesis of the spirit and the individual. This realization has deeply shaped me and raised several issues. 

Photographing the Pagoda brought me back to material concerns, letting go of records, maintaining contact with reality and a curiosity towards the world. Discovering the world is photography’s most valuable purpose, and recording these discoveries is photography’s intrinsic quality — no matter how hard today’s photography tries to ignore this fact. 

It also evokes the dawn of photography, when amateurs full of dreams and enthusiasm, recorded every corner of the world. Like them, I want to cast a pure and clumsy gaze at the pagodas, a gaze out of place and outside of time. 

 Lin Shu

About the Artist

Lin Shu (China, 1981) is a freelance photographer from Fujian Province. He studied oil painting at the Art Institute of Jimei University from 1999 to 2002 and worked as a press photographer for Modern Weekly and Urban China magazines from 2006 to 2009. In 2009 he moved to Beijing and started working as a freelance photographer.

In 2011 he held a solo exhibition titled “Toxic” at Zen Gallery, in Tokyo. The same year, he participated in the 2011 Tokyo Photo Fair “Charity” . In 2010, he also exhibited at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival and participated in the Caochangdi PhotoSpring festival where his work was part of the group show “Tora Tora Tora Chinese Cutting Edge Photography”. Previously he also participated in the Pingyao International Photography Festival in 2005 and 2006 and in the Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition in 2009. 

He was the recipient of the Three Shadows Photography Award in 2009 and his work was featured in Chinese magazines Modern Weekly, Vision, Chinese Photography and in Zhejiang Photography Press in 2010 in an article titled  “25 Cutting-edge Chinese Photographers”.