The Immortal Ruan Ling-Yu | GFX50R | GFX50S

Originally posted: https://thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-immortal-ruan-ling-yu-gfx50r-gfx50s.html

Apart from (or maybe as a consequence of this ) the”travel photography meets photojournalism” aesthetic that I am fond of working under, I also construct short projects which are best described as a mixture of fantasy-fashion-cultural-historical Chinoiserie audio slideshows. These always are of tales – some imaginary and some based on facts- involving girls sporting qi paos (or cheongsams).

Before my journeys to Shanghai, I stumbled on the life story of Ruan Ling-Yu, a silent movie star of the 1930s in her native China. She was known for a charismatic onscreen presence along with a life that was dreadful.  Among the most prominent Chinese movie stars of the 1930s, her outstanding acting capacity and suicide at the age of 24 led her to turn into an icon of Chinese cinema.

I thought I would try to generate a short”picture film” whilst in Shanghai, and made plans accordingly, highlighting the help of a local fashion photographer known as Yimu of TucanoVision and Yan Li, both friends who had helped me during previous trips to the megapolis. We agreed the photo shoot would occur at the Shanghai Film Park in Chendun that had places of 1930 Shanghai. Yimu’s ample”Rolodex” provided Tian Yiyi; a version who’d fit the persona of Ruan Ling-Yu.


Another impetus for making this audio slideshow (also available on Vimeo), is the movie about Ling-Yu’s lifetime called Center Stage, starring the celestial Maggie Cheung.  The film was produced by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan at 1991.

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