Behind the Scenes with Fan Bing Bing
Curator: Wonder Wang, Jerry Liu
Rian Dundon is a Beijing based, American photographer and writer from Monterey, California. He has lived in Mainland China since 2005 and speaks Mandarin Chinese. Rian was born in 1980 and earned a B.F.A. in Photography and Imaging from New York University in 2003. He is a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States.
Behind The Scenes With Fan Bing Bing
by Rian Dundon
This project looks at the culture of fame and celebrity in China from within the context of that country's blossoming entertainment industry. In 2008 and 2009 I spent nearly a year traveling with the Mainland Chinese actress and fashion icon Fan Bing Bing, photographing her circle of nouveau riche celebrity privilege and its endless series of film sets, promotional events, and luxury hotels. In a China that idolizes material wealth and physical beauty Fan Bing Bing represents the popular ideal; she is one of the most sought after actresses in East Asia and her image is ubiquitous in newsstands and on billboards across the region.
But in addition to this glamourous lifestyle I often found myself drawn to the motley crew of stage hands, lighting technicians, personal assistants, extras, and general tag-alongs who make up the bulk of people working on set. They are the unseen players of the entertainment business. From teenage soap opera actresses hungry for a foot in the door to fanatic autograph seekers who stalk the sets of high budget feature films, these figures represent the periphery of fame and the cultural signifiers that collectively make up a larger picture of China's celebrity complex.
Far from a literal reportage on the Chinese film industry, what I present here is a personal journey through a world most will only know by the dim light of their television screens; an examination of the dichotomy of fame reflected both in the fissured identity of those who choose to wear the crown of celebrity and in the gap between stardom's polished facade and the humble, sometimes chaotic world which props it up.