After his carte blanche residency at Rencontres d’Arles 2018, Feng Li spent a couple of weeks in the heat of the Parisian summer. The Chinese photographer had already operated in the streets of the capital in autumn 2017 during his first stay and exhibition. Skies then, were grey and low, much like those of his hometown Cheng Du, and people were entering a distinctive mood induced by less daylight.
In July, the setting was dramatically different. With a temperature reaching 35 degrees, Paris felt suddenly tropical while both Parisians and tourists were crowding around the banks of the Seine within a peculiar and electric atmosphere found just before National Day and the World Cup Finale. A concentration of humans on that scale could only delight Feng Li, whose whole practice is based on the meticulous observation of the human species in its urban environment. The denser the crowd, the happier he is – sure to be able to intercept expressive yet improbable scenes from the swarming streets. The result of this new Parisian experiment is compiled in a selection of 24 pictures which you can see below.
White Night in Paris started out naturally when Feng Li stayed in the French capital at the occasion of his first exhibition in October 2017. The first thing he did when he got downtown on a rainy morning is to shoot a lady lighting up her first cigaret at the terrace of a common Parisian café. That shot was the first of a long series.
Indeed White Night can be transposed to Paris or elsewhere because Feng Li practices a fluid, instinctive, human-centered photograph. His images leave little room for the decor, the topography, but illuminates a shirt collar, a fake fur, an oblique look and other little things that tell about the people he meets and captures without trying to know their story .