“…the usual Porsche-beside-a-donkey images of today’s China.”
This is a quotation from an article by Evan Osnos reviewing Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life by Howard French.
I found it quite a simple and effective way to describe the usal approach to the idea of Chinese modernity. Put a farmer in front of a shopping mall or a traditional market with a background of highrises and the job is done. True, this comes quite natural. I took those pictures too, obviously; they are just unavoidable for the simple reason you’re a tourist. Still, in a way, I am relieved I got to this conclusion by myself.
The writer used a very good expression to exemplify what’s happening a lot in Chinese related photography. Working on my new project following my trip to the Far East in November I started assembling images of people and sometime places with the idea of mixing them together in a cohesive way. And I was faced with a similar issue: I took a lot of pictures of chickens and skyscrapers, poor country people and businessmen.
I am just at half of the process but I managed to shift my attention to a different type of contrast: people forced to blend in, the poors that have no other choice than working for the current urban development. I wrote about this in a previous post: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics…
In a similar way, the countryside is slowly disappearing from this project giving way to non-places – areas in the middle of a transition, awaiting to be completed. Just a couple of pictures will appear in the finished project, their reason to be is to give context to the people portrayed in my work. The image above is an example.
Hopefully the next post will introduce the project itself after Christmas.
A Slow Selection