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Justin Guariglia June 20, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
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Two Portraits from “Planet Shanghai” © Justin Guariglia

Born in 1974 in Maplewood, New Jersey, Justin Guariglia has lived and worked in Asia for nearly a decade before returning to live in New York City in 2006. He is the author of the critically acclaimed photography book SHAOLIN: Temple of Zen, which the Aperture Foundation has turned into a 100-piece internationally traveling photography exhibition. Guariglia is a regular contributor to Smithsonian magazine, and is a photographer and contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler magazine. He has been nominated for the International Center of Photography’s Young Photographer Infinity Award, selected as a Fotofest Discovery of the Meeting Place, received several photo of the year awards, and was named one of the “30 Young Photographers under 30″ by Photo District News. His book Planet Shanghai was recently published by Chronicle Books.

About the Photograph:

“While I love Beijing, the cultural capital of China, I quickly became enamored with the character, and characters, of Shanghai’s back streets. There seemed to be a greater sense of pride, joy , and cohesion among the inhabitants here than elsewhere-as if they knew they were part of the club- the club of the real and everlasting. Like the artwork in Venice’s churches and pallazi, here the Shanghainese seem to be art in its original setting. The setting is the streets, and the art is the people themselves, living life in an urban alfresco, and often clad in silk to boot.”

“I could walk among the living descendants of the Han, Tang, and Qing dynasties. Many of my hosts, the inhabitants of the longtang, lived in the same homes and followed nearly the same daily routines as their ancestors did. The feeling is like stepping back into Chinese history itself, and it is revealing, impressive, and downright charm. If you have never been to Shanghai, you would be unlikely to know that the city’s inhabitants are a proud, outgoing, opinionated, and bold lot who live life in the street- not to mention life in pajamas. While these pictures represent only a glimpse into what i feel is an authentic slice of Shanghai, it is important to point out that this pajama party is quickly coming to an end. The longtang of Shanghai, considered by many chinese as “backward” are quickly disappearing, thanks in part to land development and the desire to flatten blocks of centuries-old neighborhood housing to build modern office and residential towers-monuments to the “progress” and “forward-thinking” of the new republic. It is in this spirit I present you with a slice of authentic Shanghainese culture in its original setting, a setting I’m smitten with and have been immersing myself in for nearly a decade.”

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Comments»

1. SCT - June 20, 2008

I find some of the images in his book so fantastic and wonder if it’ll still be around when i eventually make my way there or if there will be an everlasting “shanghai tang” that is everlasting as he has indicated.

Congratulations on this beautiful book. I really think photography books like these are a great introduction for young, naive, almost ignorant minds to learn about another culture.


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