Melanie Stegemann

IDEAL - Same kind different shape

Presentation of the works that were created in Chongqing as part of the series ‚Back from Chongqing’, after a two months artist residency made possible by the cultural office of Düsseldorf and Organhaus in 2015.

This photographic work was inspired on site and by the wonderful people I was fortunate to meet in Chongqing during the time of my residency in November and December 2015. It was my first time in China – one of the most exotic places I have been to– and I found myself very connected to this part of the world and its people. I have more than ever felt diversity as a feature we all share. I realized that all ideas I had about China came from western interpretations, and that these clichés were telling me more about my own culture than the culture they were supposed to represent.

I’m feeling very fortunate and enriched that I have had the chance to learn about Asian interpretations of living, and that I had these unique experiences. This allowed me to correct my ideas about a country and its inhabitants, which back then, were only based on assumptions. What a wonderful experience! Inspiration was all around and out of the rich palette of possibilities to reflect on artistically, I picked the idea of style and beauty. I felt excited by the thought of being able to encounter these engaging people of Chongqing, their ideas and crafts, by letting them work on my physical appearance. I was interested to experience one of the most diverse and subjective habits of mankind: style, fashion and of course beauty – which leads into familiar human efforts, desiring to serve an ideal of beauty and appearance in society. To me it feels paradox that something so very subjective and diverse has such a huge importance and effect on behaviour, thoughts and values.

Something I could not foresee was the actual beauty happening during the make-up jobs or shootings. The openness, curiosity and effort everyone put into each look overcame language barriers and made it possible to communicate on a basic level of understanding, based on common sense and body talk. To me these pictures represent a story of natural connection and mutual inspiration.

Click here to see the first presentation in Chongqing. Einladung_web.jpg (5)_web.jpg (6)_web.jpg