Katharina Hesse August 20, 2008Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
Katharina Hesse holds a graduate degree in Chinese & Japanese studies from the Institute National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales in Paris. She initially worked as an assistant for German TV and later freelanced for Newsweek from 1996 to 2002. In 2003 and 2004 she covered China for Getty photos. Hesse is self-taught in photography and her work has appeared in Der Spiegel, Le Monde, Marie-Claire, Stern and Vanity Fair among others. Hesse participated in the ” A day in the Life of the American Woman ” project in 2005, and won a NPPA 1st prize award in 2003. Her work has been featured at photography festivals including Visa Pour l’Image, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, the Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia and LOOK3 (USA).
About the Photograph:
“I took a small number of portraits of the Beijing petitioners in late December 2007 as I thought they’d certainly not be allowed to stay around during the Olympics due to China’s obsession with ” keeping face” and showing off as a perfect host city. Many of these people have struggled for years in their native provinces to seek justice, therefore Beijing’s petitioner’s offices are their last recourse. Sadly, most are detained and then sent back to their native provinces. In the days leading up to the Olympics, houses were still being demolished. Recent news from a petitioner describes his situation as follows: ‘our neigborhood has been dismantled… more than 10,000 of us including homeless people live on one bowl of vegetables a day. Some of us have been beaten by officials dressed up as petitioners.’ “