THEN exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery with the Voigtländer Nokton 40mm 1:1.2 and Sony α7R

This is the fourth of a series of articles showcasing pictures taken on the Voigtländer Nokton 40mm 1:1.2. These pictures were taken at the THEN exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery.

The White Rabbit Gallery was opened in 2009 to showcase what has become one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art. Dedicated to works made in the 21st century, the White Rabbit Collection is owned by Judith Neilson, who was inspired to establish it after her first trips to Beijing in the late 1990s. She was thrilled by the creative energy and technical quality of the works she saw and wanted to share them with people outside China. She makes regular trips to China and Taiwan to augment the Collection, which now includes more than 2000 works by almost 700 artists. The gallery building, a Rolls-Royce service depot in the 1940s, was completely refitted as an exhibition space by architect William Smart. Since the Gallery can house only a fraction of the collection at any one time, there are two new exhibitions a year, each involving a full rehang. For this reason, the Gallery closes during installations, usually in February and August. 

THEN celebrates the great adventure of White Rabbit’s first decade: ten exciting years of showcasing the creative energy, daring and technical accomplishment of Chinese contemporary art. The gallery’s tenth anniversary exhibition presents works by more than 60 artists, all produced during the first ten years of Judith Neilson’s private collection (2000-2010). Some were highlights of the very first White Rabbit exhibition, in 2009.

Sweeping social change at the end of the 20th century meant that Chinese artists at the start of the 21st century found themselves in a world that had been utterly transformed. The responded by embracing new influences from overseas and from within China. Re-examining and reinventing Chinese art traditions, playfully fusing them with the best of international contemporaneity, they created an eclectic mash-up of past and present, and east and west.

Their provocative work celebrated – and satirised – a society in flux. A fire-engine red, pig-like care with an 11-metre protruding tongue; a giant pair of pink, neon-lit underpants with a soundtrack of Shanghai love songs; a dusty minivan that ‘breaths’; an installation of 1500 knitted strawberries – the sheer inventiveness of artists revelling in new-found freedoms challenged cliched perceptions of China. From embroidered portraits of grinning world leaders to American and Chinese flags made of corporate logos, the artists in THEN examine the paradoxes of a nation on fast forward.

The first decade of the ‘Chinese century’ was the moment that Chinese contemporary art exploded into the international arena. THEN tells the story of White Rabbit’s first, boldly adventurous decade – a journey into the unknown that parallels the ambition and audacity of contemporary Chinese art.

These pictures are a good indication of how the lens is able to capture the art hung in a gallery with accuracy and detail, with minimum optical distortions. They also showcase the lens capturing in low light situations under the presence of multiple light sources.

For more information on the Nokton 40mm lens, check out my initial impressions article and other articles in the series:

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Posted by Chris Tham

Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal Voigtländer Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy. She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos. More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world. Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.