A graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Chen Man’s big break came while she was still studying in 2009 when she was offered a chance to shoot covers for Chinese fashion and lifestyle magazine Vision. Since then her work has graced the pages of Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan. She also shot ad campaigns for L’Oreal, Nike and Shanghai Tang.
Why is she famous?
In 2008, she participated in the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum’s “China Design Now” exhibition in which one of her photographs was selected as the official visual for the show. The same year Chen was chosen to participate in the “Demolition Party” – an art project organised by Philippe Starck – at Le Royal Monceau in Paris. Only 20 international artists, considered to be amongst the most creative and original, were chosen.
But Chen was not without critics. Many said her works were not real photography, since she was known for using technology like 3D rendering and Photoshop in her work. But others say she moved fashion photography from a staid reflection of the current year’s styles to a more artful, glamorous presentation of mood and story.
Why is she in the news?
Chen, who describes herself as a practicing Buddhist, is also an environmental activist. “I see the planet as a whole being, and each of us, each human, is a single cell of that,” she told the South China Morning Post in an interview. “The building of nuclear power stations, of huge dams such as the Three Gorges Dam, this is not natural, this is against nature’s will. They offer benefits today, but one day they will endanger our lives. They are like a cancer.”
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