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Xiao Xiao Xu wins Jimei x Arles Outstanding Female Photographer Award

The Dutch-Chinese photographer Xiaoxiao Xu has today won the 2020 Jimei x Arles Outstanding Female Photographer Award with her work ‘Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall’.

The award is an initiative of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (Beijing and Xiamen). In addition to the honor, the prize is worth 30 thousand yuan (3800 euros). Curator Ruben Lundgren accepted the prize in Jimei because Xiaoxiao Xu could not attend because of corona.

The work was published as a book earlier this year. On display and sale at PhotoQ Bookshop (for quick decision makers there are signed copies):
Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall

At the awards ceremony, judge Wang Huangsheng, professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and director of the Art Museum of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, said: ‘Xu Xiaoxiao’s work explores the relationship between the Great Wall and contemporary China. The artist uses the Chinese wall as an intermediary to understand China’s past and present. Her unique visual language, the overall presentation including exhibitions and photo books, is impressive. The creation of this series freed the Great Wall from the relatively fixed “Chinese symbols” and opened up the narrative space of Chinese stories limited by the discourse of the Great Wall.’

The jury also consisted of:
-Gu Zheng (curator, critic, art director of Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival)
-Liu Bolin (contemporary artist)
-Lu Yinghua (director of Beijing Middle Art Museum)
-Rong Rong (co-founder of Three Shadows Photography Art Center, co-founder of Jimei · Arles International Photography Festival)

The other nominees were Feng Mengjin (b.1995), Li Yuanming (b.1994), Sim Chi Yin (b.1978), Wang Xining (b.1983), Wu Ting (b.1989), Xu Dan (b.1978) and Yu Xingyue (b.1997).

Curator Lu Xiaoben (Chinese name of Ruben Lundgren) mentioned in subsequent interviews that the works of Xu Xiaoxiao are poetic and moving: “She does not consider the Great Wall as a barrier with military significance, but instead concentrates on human activities at the foot of the Great Wall and conquered the subject. It shows the ordinary daily life of people and the landscape of the Chinese countryside along the Great Wall. Xu Xiaoxiao uses the myth of the Great Wall to give a mirror image of the rapid development of contemporary Chinese urbanization, allowing us to directly witness the places where the ancient traditions the photographers are looking for still exist, but gradually disappear.’

Photographer Xiaoxiao Xu was born in Qingtian County near Wenzhou, Zhejiang in 1984 and emigrated to the Netherlands at the age of 14. After spending half her life in the Netherlands, she changed her view of China. With an identity that cannot be directly defined, she is both an insider and an outsider. By photographing locations, portraits and still lifes full of confusion and alienation, Xu Xiaoxiao tries to find a balance between his origins and present life. In 2009 she graduated cum laude from the Amsterdam Academy of Photography, and then held a solo exhibition at the FotoMuseum Antwerp, and has been working on personal projects ever since. Her book Aeronautics In the Backyard, published in 2016, has won many prestigious awards in recent years. More information: