Yaya means “grandfather” in the Shanghainese dialect. The artist, born and raised in Shanghai, uses this word on a daily basis to refer to her grandfather, the protagonist of this photographic cycle. The dramatic accident that occurred more than fifty years ago, traces of which remain visible to this day, did not deprive this man of his positive outlook on the world, nor of the will to live, to absorb new impressions, to create.

Yaya includes portraits of the artist’s grandfather as well as close-ups (hands), traces of his presence (shadow), and objects belonging to his personal history (a photo from his youth, a painting). Each photograph is a separate work, but together they narrate an intriguing story left partially untold. With tenderness and warmth, without seeking to shock, Hailun shows her grandfather’s severely burn-scarred hands up close, juxtaposing them with a fish the protagonist painted and his portrait’s calm, bright gaze. The grandfather’s oft-repeated resolution to “never give up” is here given strong visual form by the granddaughter who photographed him. The artist’s decision to present this most personal of series for her artistic debut is testimony to that resolution.

Katarzyna Kozyra

Hailun Luo (b. 1997, Shanghai) is an artist primarily engaged in photography. She earned her BFA from York University in Toronto, in 2021. Her work is comprised of black-and-white, conceptual, and street photography, shot using both digital and film cameras, oriented around concepts relating to gender, life and death, family, and memories. She currently lives in Shanghai.

Hailun Luo’s photographs will be displayed during the 20th edition of the Kraków Photomonth Festival. This exhibition is part of the ShowOFF Section curatored by Katarzyna Kozyra. Find more information at: photomonth.com