Soap operas are staged dramas that can vividly reflect people’s lives. The stage is always full of charm for me, because its condensed structures and roughly constructed props carry the audiences from one scene to the next and eventually to their real lives. The roughness of the deliberately constructed backgrounds produces a visually non-authentic effect as well as symbolic meanings. The beauty of the concentration of life elements is also integrated with abstract feeling. I am always fascinated by what lies between the real and the surreal, which brings me a sense of freedom.
This series attempts to build artificial rooms, stage performances, and fix the camera at the same viewpoint of each scene. The camera then records these cinematic scenes, which are completed by actors re-enacting or creating a scene of daily life. While looking at theses staged scenes, audience members may see versions of themselves in the photographs or may be complete bystanders who seek their own answers to life.
The Soap Opera Series was nominated for the 10th Annual International Color Awards in 2017.
Fang Tong graduated from the Fine Arts Institute of Shanghai University and studied in France. She has had a successful career in painting, sculpture, design and other art fields. In recent years, she has focused on photography, and she has been awarded several major international photography awards. She has been published in VOGUE and other major domestic and foreign magazines. The photo ‘Swimming Pool’ won first prize in the Nikon International Photography Competition Category C in 2015. She was commissioned by Sony in 2013 as one of 20 photographers around the world to represent Sony’s camera phone.
Fang Tong is a cinematic style photographer, as a spectator of life. Her works are embedded with an implied narrative, which is left to the viewer to resolve over time with their own imagination. Reflecting her background in classical art, the photography is carefully planned to control the frame and the expression of details, giving her work an ethos of a painter. As a bystander, Fang Tong captures the potential that photography can embody pieces with an eternal quality, thereby creating a slightly fictional world that resembles reality but transcends consciousness. Fang Tong’s passion is for her work to border on the surreal, yet hold back enough to keep it firmly in the real world. Her photos provoke audiences to create a narrative out of cinematic pictures. There may be no clearly defined story behind the scene, but there is a strong mood and atmosphere throughout the whole image. The imaginary world is strangely familiar while the narrative arc takes audiences on a hyper-visual ride through people’s subconsciousness. She nurtures the balance between the real and the surreal that pulls her audiences into the world she created, but she also allows the audience to discover their own answers.