Meeting Place FotoFest Beijing 2006: Gallery now on online at Photo-eye

Report by Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss from FotoFest:

“A new Internet gallery, designed and hosted by photoeye.com, is the worldwide extension of the Meeting Place FotoFest Beijing 2006 and a new partnership between Chinese and U.S. photography organizations, supported by China Hewlett Packard.

The 34 photographers shown in this gallery have been selected by the international reviewers at MPFB as being some of the most interesting artist/photographers they encountered in Beijing. Names and affiliations of the reviewers are available on the new gallery.

The Meeting Place FotoFest Beijing 2006 grew out of the trip we made in November 2005 to the LianZhou PhotoFestival in south China and the subsequent trip to FOTOFEST 2006 by ten Chinese curators, photographers, journalists, and businessmen. Two of them, GAO Lei and Jimmy Chu, proposed that FotoFest collaborate in creating a Meeting Place portfolio review in Beijing. We agreed and set the conditions under which the collaboration could function. Three months later, China Hewlett Packard had raised $133,000 and made the event move forward.

Following a national press conference they held in Beijing during July 2006 in the building of China Hewlett Packard, FotoFest organized and invited important national/international curators to be portfolio reviewers. Most people accepted, and the list of 30 reviewers was very impressive – leading museums, artist spaces, festivals, commercial galleries, photo agencies in Europe, North America and Australia. Five Chinese curators were invited to review. [The list of reviewers is included at the end of the narrative report.]

Based on FotoFest’s registration templates, the Chinese organizers created a new website and web-based registration process. They advertised throughout China. Over 1,000 Chinese photographers applied for the advertised 260 spaces for the four-day period. The website had four million visitor hits between August-October 2006. The portfolio reviews were free. China Hewlett Packard was the principal sponsor and main organizer of MPFB2006. Special support for FotoFest’s work came from Mary Lawrence Porter. In China, additional support came from Q Image, Beijing and China Photography Magazine.

The MEETING PLACE FOTOFEST BEIJING 2006 (MPFB2006) was full. The 278 photographic artists, documentary photographers and photojournalists came from almost every province in China, including the largest cities and many rural areas. Every reviewer had a translator for the four-day period. Leading up to the event, one of the Chinese organizers, GAO Lei, Beijing photographer and founder of Q-Imaging, gave photographers free workshops in how to organize portfolios and create CDs for the reviewers. With help of printing from China Hewlett-Packard, Q-image Lab and GAO Lei, a master printer, 25 percent of the registrant photographers received free printing for the portfolios they presented.

The organization of the event was flawless. China Hewlett-Packard, worked with GAO Lei and the co-organizer Jimmy Chu, from Hong Kong, who did all the logistics – hotel, meals, review scheduling, travel reimbursements, transportation in Beijing, tour of Beijing (Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and Forbidden City), opening and closing ceremonies, press conference, publicity, special ceremonies, etc.

For most reviewers, MPFB2006 was their first trip to China. Almost all reviewers have said they plan to work with one or more Chinese photographers as a result of this event – exhibitions, gallery representations, published portfolios. Some plan to purchase works.”

View the gallery and work at www.photoeye.com/fotofestbeijing

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