September 10, 2007

Documenting China Response

I enjoyed going to the exhibit, Documenting China : Contemporary
Photography and Social Change, at the Weisman Art Museum. It was great to
see photography and works by a variety of photographers capturing the
different areas in China over the past couple of decades. I liked how they
each carried a different style to their pieces and how they captured what
they were trying to express and share in that period of time. I ended up
choosing a couple of pieces to write a response on.

The first was this stunning image taken by Zhou Hai in Liaonig in
1996. In the background lay a steel factory emitting black and grey clouds
in the luminous sky. In the front of the picture there was a worker trying
to climb over a railing onto safety that appeared to be overlooking some
high ground. The way the picture was taken made the worker appear he could
be falling or climbing back over. This was a great image that I think
helped show the contradiction of how the Chinese media has expressed that
the country’s economic growth has offered its citizens many great
opportunities. However, the question lies, at what cost?

The second image that I expressed interest in was by Zhang Xinmin,
taken in Guangdong in 1997. The image was very peculiar because it appeared
to contain many groupings of people inside small and compact boxes.
Apparently a serious inadequate supply of housing for the workers in the
growing cities has left many workers to construct these extremely small
cubicles made out of bamboo, plywood, cardboard, and other recycled
material. I just found it to be shocking that people were living like this
and I believe Xinmin did a great job capturing the hardships that the
people in China have been going through.