The CENTER Awards: Project Launch Winner: Amiko Li
For the next two weeks, Lenscratch will be celebrating the 2014 CENTER Award Winners. We are thrilled to align with such a wonderful organization that honors, supports, and provides opportunities to gifted and committed photographers. For 20 years, CENTER has launched careers, provided incredible exposure and inspired photographers to create work that excites and challenges the photographic dialogue.
Today we celebrate Amiko Li‘s Project Launch 1st Place Award, starting with juror, Laura Ruth & Fred Bidwell’s, statement.
PROJECT LAUNCH: Juror’s Statement
We enjoyed viewing and discussing the hundreds of portfolios immensely. While it seemed at first overwhelming, surfing through these entries revealed many strong bodies of work and our eagerness to see more kept us going strong. Powerful, well-executed images, crisp concepts and emotional impact were what attracted us to a short list of finalists. The fact that our selections had little overlap with that of the other two jurors is a testimony to the strength and quality of the entries.
We chose Amiko Li’s work, Saudade, for our juror’s choice award because of it’s compelling simplicity, wonder and quiet strangeness. This is work of impressive maturity from a very promising young artist.
“Saudade” is a series of photographs that contain projections of my personal experiences. Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgia or deeply melancholic longing for an absence of something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. I make my mind blank and seek something that is normally hidden that I can draw out. This may be an empty corner or the unknown thoughts of a train passenger. These photographs of lonely subjects reflect my vulnerabilities and changing perspective of life. By delicately preserving fragile moments of intimacy with my subject (be it human or inanimate), I coax the viewers to reconsider and recall their own personal histories and relationships.
I pursue melancholia. In the moment of its photographic capture, I discover the cruel reality of society that is embedded in the sophisticated beauty of my surroundings. My photographs contain projections of personal experiences; they are a distillation of complex emotions. I isolate my subjects; push them to the corner to pull the viewer in, from intimacy to distance. Informed by my hopes and disappointments, I attempt to romanticize my problematic experiences and naiveté through atmospheric portraiture, landscape and still life that show periods of waiting, quietness and negative space.
Amiko Wenjia Li was born in 1993 in Shanghai. He is interested in the personal landscape, fragility and privilege of youth. He is currently pursuing his BFA degree in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has taken Advanced Photography Intensive in Columbia University in the summer of 2013.
His works have been exhibited throughout the United States and China including Newspace Center for Photography; The Center for Fine Art Photography; Andy Warhol Museum. His works have been featured in numerous online publications including Fraction Magazine; SFMOMA blog; Lenscratch; and Ain’t Bad Magazine. He is the winner of 2014 Center Project Launch Award Juror’s Choice, American Photography 30 and ArtSlant 2014 1st Showcase, he is also a finalist of 2014 Lucie Emerging Scholarship.
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