Weiji, an idiomatic term that might be considered a concept rather than something definable, implies that when encountering difficulties there are often many options one can take. The idea of a crisis, real or insinuated can often take us from our normal course and redirect our attention to alternate ideas, requiring us to rethink our assumptions and open our minds to new opportunities. As such, the students from the Schools of Photography at the Beijing Film Academy and the Art Department of the University of Minnesota have constructed visual analogies to the concept of Weiji or Crisis = Opportunity.
Change —evolution —transform —
We awaken each day to new circumstances, circumstances that require new understanding, tolerance, and awareness. The nature of existence is accommodating to change, and how we manage that change is what determines our success. The ability to use the accumulated knowledge that we have gained through experience, education, and training provide the ground upon which we stand, when this ground shifts, do we see this as a crisis or an opportunity?
This yearlong project, involving the students from the Photographic Institute of the Beijing Film Academy and the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota, has provided an opportunity to examine the concept of transition and the effect it has on their lives. Students were asked to explore visually some aspect of change that they have come to understand as altering the way they perceive and understand the world around them. Some use personal narratives while others illustrate through a documentary style, the evolving landscape. As students it is often difficult to perceive change when living in real time, this project provided the medium and the opportunity to step back and to reflect on their own assumptions.
The 2013 collaboration with the Film Academy photo school titled: Mirror / Window has been arranged with our students and BFA students in Beijing. Students will envision and interpret the theme taking into consideration their individual or collective understanding. Mirror, a reflecting surface, showing our own image, our ideas and dreams reflected back to us; window, an aperture in a wall, a way to look outward, to new events and experiences. Students are encouraged to envision their work as a metaphor for the psychological and sociological aspects of self exploration.