What I am reading: Three foreign perspectives on China

Fingerpointing Hawker

How do we as foreigners view China? Beyond the tired observations of the darker side of urbanisation, weathered and beaten portraits of the under-classes, what do we see that is different from how locals view their surroundings?  Do we suffer from the shallow “drive by shooting” effect, or do we really provide an insight that is wildly unique?

Today’s links present three perspectives, I’d be curious to know if you feel them to be similar or otherwise.  

Jiri Makovec

Photographer: Jiri Makovec

– Czech photographer Jiri Makovec’s mark as a photographer is noted by his recent induction into InPublic, the street photography collective started up by Nick Turpin, his feature in New York Times and referred to as “One to Watch” by the British Journal of Photography. I was pleased to discover his work on Russia and China, a wonderful contrast in style and perspective: the former monochrome, vintage and personal, while the latter was desaturated, upbeat and distant. Makovec’s China collective is very interesting mainly due to the obvious absence of Beijing and Shanghai. Rather, it had a more “provincial” feel: domestic tourists, a smaller sized Mao statue, regional airpots and generic natural scenary. It captured China in an even fashion by the lack of captions on location and tother details.

Markkel Redondo 1

Photographer: Markel Redondo

Markel Redondo studied part of his MA in photography in Beijing. His work covered topics du jour: urbanisation in Chongqing, environmental issues along the Yangtze etc. But I thought his most interesting work was documenting Chinese domestic tourism. He referred to the project as:

“… a satiric comment on the mass movements of people for cultural and “scenic spot” consumption. It concentrates on the social interactions between group members and leaders, tourists and the landscape and reveal a new phenomenon.”

Alain Delorme

Photographer: Alan Delorme

– You’d probably have seen Alan Delorme’s “Totems” at some point. Less photography, more photographic art. While on a purposeful trip to Shanghai, he photoshopped shots of exaggerated (though not implausiable) and towering cargo that hawkers and deliverymen in Shanghai carry around against a backdrop of Shanghai’s building frenzy. His manufactured perspective of China is more overt, though I wouldn’t go as far to refer to it as reductive, but best appreciated for its wit and artistic value.

You probably can tell which is a favorite of mine, what about you?

You can follow more of my frequent posts on China and photography-related links on the blog’s Facebook page.

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3 Comments

  • Reply June 3, 2013

    bittermelon

    Sue Ann, link to Jiri Makovic’s web site does not work. Do you have another link?

  • Reply June 6, 2013

    bittermelon

    Got thanks.

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