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January 20, 2019

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Photos offer a kaleidoscope of life in China

THE exhibition “Social Geography: Ten Journeys with a Camera” has opened at the Shanghai Center of Photography on the West Bund, displaying a kaleidoscope of Chinese life through more than 200 photos by 10 Chinese photographers.

“The whole idea begins with Luo Dan’s works,” said Karen Smith, art director at the center.

After quitting a job as a photojournalist, Luo decided to record the social environment on trips across the nation. In 2006, he traveled east-west along Highway 318 that runs from Shanghai to the Tibet Autonomous Region. Two years later, he embarked on a trip from north to south in China. Both of Luo’s travel series are showcased in the exhibition.

Smith said Luo’s trips interested her because “many people living in cities don’t really know about other places in China. Sometimes people forget China is so big, with so many different characteristics.”

Smith compared the power of photography to a mirror, reflecting the way people live.

The perspectives of works in the exhibition vary. Some photos were taken on long-haul trips like Luo’s; others explore a specific place or a certain group of people.

Chengdu-based photographer Li Lang focused his lens on the Yi ethnic minority in the mountainous border region of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

From 1993 to 2000, he frequently traveled there. His “Yi People” series tries to take a new and realistic look at how the people live there.

“Only living among them can one understand their feelings toward life and the land,” he said.

Artist Zhuang Hui’s “Ten Years” exhibit is displayed as though the photos were “postcards of his life,” said Smith, while Wang Yingying’s series “Where My Heart Settles Down” is presented as a book.

Here’s a closer look at elements of the exhibition.


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