When Shen Wei was a teenager, growing up in Shanghai, he snuck into an underground movie theater and watched the film Basic Instinct. He was not so much shocked by the sex and the violence in the film, but was more affected by the realization of how people were so numbed by the ideas of intimacy, sexuality and love.
When he came to America, his curiosity in how people dealt with their identity in an open society grew. He began to photograph random people. People off the street, people he had just met.
When creating a portrait, the photographer/subject connection is crucial. Without this connection, the subject will produce a facade, an invisible wall between the two. Shen Wei manages to very quickly gain trust and forge an emotional connection. The resulting image is one of honesty, non-glamorous, stripped down, and without pretense.
Wei’s portraits are about human nature, emotions, feelings and desire. He explores the complexity of emotional nakedness and human psychology through the bond he creates with his subject. The intimate act of a portrait, the one-on-one relationship between photographer and subject, brings the subjects self forward.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China. Shen Wei is currently based in New York City. Shen’s photographs have been widely exhibited and published. His exhibitions including Griffin Museum of Photography, Center on Contemporary (Seattle), Lincoln Center Avery (NYC), ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts (NYC) Zoo Art Fair 2007 with Saatchi Gallery (London). His photographs have been featured in various publications such as American Photo, Photo District News (PDN), Photographer’s Forum, JPG, World Journal and CMYK.
Shen Wei is a recipient of The Griffin Award from The Griffin Museum of Photography and The Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grant from New York City Department Culture Affairs and Lower Manhattan Culture Council. Shen is named as one of the “new generation of photo pioneers” by American Photo magazine in 2007. Shen Wei holds an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from School Visual Arts (NYC), a BFA in Photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design BA in Decorative Arts and Design from Shanghai Light Industry College.