Images From Red Nations
——The Works of Liu Yuan
Artists: Liu Yuan
Curator: Na Risong
Academic Adviser: Robert Pledge
2015.04.11 - 2015.05.11
Images From Red Nations is a collection of photographs taken in countries that were part of the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War by photographer Liu Yuan. The Soviet Bloc was a powerful political presence during the twentieth century and had a profound effect on world history. These countries were also sometimes called the "Socialist Family."
During the Second World War, Nazi Germany's eastward military advance brought many nation sin the Eastern part of Europe together to fight a common enemy. Nazi Germany also invaded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics(USSR). With the help of Western Europe and America, the USSR began a war to defend itself from Nazi Germany's military forces. After nearly five years of bitter struggle, Nazi Germany's military forces retreated to Germany and the Soviets took this opportunity to liberate much of Eastern Europe. After the end of the war, a number of countries in the region instituted socialist planned economic systems under Soviet leadership. These countries united with Asian countries employing similar systems came together to form a socialist family of 17 countries. This family was both a military alliance and an economic community. For many years, this family was a fortress resisting capitalism, and has been called the "Red Bloc" by the Capitalist world.
Unfortunately, dictatorship made these nations extremely bureaucratic. When socialist and communist ideals vanished from the bureaucratic class, social conflicts accumulated and adjustments were not made.
The Soviet Bloc ceased to exist after the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, thus ending a unique period in history.
Liu Yuan experienced the red years, and half of his life was spent responding to Socialist ideology. Using his own life experiences, he also understands the other countries in the Socialist family, which we now see in his photographs. His visits to these places were the realization of long-cherished dreams, because for him, these countries were once only imagined. However, in this globalized world, they have become not so distant. It is regretful that these visits have happened this late, since socialism has already ended in most of these places. In Liu Yuan's photographs, we can see societies revisiting the true color of history. Those imagined socialist countries that gave us our communist ideals have already disappeared into the ether. Liu Yuan's photographs pay tribute to his experience and to history.
Liu Yuan was born in 1953 in Henan Province, China. He currently lives in Guangdong Province, and is a member of the China Photographers Association and the Vice-Chairman of the Guangdong Art Photography Society.
Since 1997, Liu has traveled to more than 100 countries and produced more than 100 photography catalogs. In his travels, he has focused on past and present socialist countries. These photographs together create his unique series "Images from Red Nations". Over six years, he photographed 21 of these countries.
Liu Yuan has also shown his photography in museums and at festivals. He has held more than 40 exhibitions both domestically and internationally, sharing with audiences his unique view of the world. Furthermore, his artwork and catalogs have been collected by many foreign and Chinese museums and libraries.
In September 2008, his catalog The Poles won the "Outstanding Photography Book Award" at the Pingyao International Photography Festival. In September 2012, he was named "The Best Documentary Photographer" at the Pingyao International Photography Festival for his exhibition "Images from Red Nations".