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Kris Graves October 14, 2015

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Wires, Beijing, China, 2012

Kris Graves (b. 1982, USA) creates photographs of landscapes and people to preserve memory. The images’ stillness cause the viewer to acknowledge the inevitability of change and the passage of time. Kris suspends his belief and knowledge of this change, not to document a moment or state, but rather to sustain it. He has a BFA from SUNY Purchase College and currently works as studio manager and photographer for the Guggenheim Museum. He has won the Juror’s selection for Center Forward at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado and has been exhibited widely across the United States. He has published four books of his photographs and operates a limited edition publishing company named Kris Graves Projects.

About the Photograph:

“I was born, raised, and  reside in New York. In the summer of 2012, my girlfriend was studying abroad in China and I made a plan to visit on the backend of her trip. We decided to organize a trip that would have us visit Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Beijing is a congested, difficult city to navigate without a knowledge of the language and that was made even more difficult being a black man. I am convinced that black people are seldom seen in the city, I was followed, stereotyped, and stared at. I hope that this was more from ignorance then racism. Anyway, I always try to make the best of bad situations and said: I will photograph this place as well as I can and was lucky enough to make a few nice photographs. This photograph is common across the world, but the pure mass of wires stood out to me as a cultural signifier.”

“I consider myself a large-format photographer, but about a decade ago, I realized I also wanted the ability to walk 20 miles a day making photographs especially on vacation to places that I will most likely never see again. So I leave my view camera inside for portraiture and the occasional landscape within walking distance of my apartment. This photograph was taken with a DSLR. However, I still see in view camera format.”

Li Qiang October 8, 2015

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Memorial Service, Beijing 2010

Li Qiang (b. 1985, China) was a staff photographer at the Beijing News and vice director of Photography at Newsweek Magazine. He has covered breaking news all around China for ten years and has won the China International Press Photo Contest (CHIPP) for consecutive years. Li has also won the Annual Outstanding Photographer in 2010. His works focus on the vulnerable groups in China. At the end of 2014, he set up an independent organization called Yihe Media Training Workshop in order to connect photographers in China and promote Chinese photographers in the world through holding international workshops with foreign photographers. His work was awarded  by World Press Photo and POY in 2015.

About the Photograph:

“In 2010, when I was a staff photographer for the Beijing News I shot this photo of the memorial for the eight soldiers of the Chinese peacekeeping force. Beijing citizens mourned the soldiers who died in Haiti’s earthquake. Eight soldiers of the Chinese peacekeeping forces in Haiti were buried in a building and more than ten were missing after a powerful earthquake struck in Haiti. Their remains were later sent back to China.”

Daniel Traub April 19, 2015

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Guangzhou, China 2012

Daniel Traub (b. 1971) is a Brooklyn based photographer and filmmaker. Since 1999, he has been engaged with long term photographic projects in China including Simplified Characters which explores the transformation of China’s cities, and Peripheries which looks at the border region where urban and rural China meet. Daniel’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, the Print Center in Philadelphia, and are in public and private collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work has appeared in publications including Aperture, European Photography and The New York Times Magazine. His first monograph, North Philadelphia, was published in 2014 by Kehrer Verlag.

About the Photograph:

“Xiaobeilu is a immigrant neighborhood in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. It is home to internal Chinese migrants as well as tens of thousands of Africans, primarily Nigerians. The Africans, in particular, work largely as traders buying fabrics, electronics and machinery produced in the Pearl River Delta, and selling these products in Africa. Since 2009, I have been photographing the people and activities on a pedestrian bridge that runs through the neighborhood.

“On this bridge, I also came across a group of Chinese migrants with cheap digital cameras selling their services as photographers to Africans who might want a souvenir of their time in China. The Africans would hire them to make a portrait for 10 RMB ($1.50), which were then printed on a portable printer. I approached one of the photographers, Zeng Xian Fang, to have a look at the images and found them compelling. Zeng was taking the photographs purely as a means of survival, he would erase the camera’s memory cards at the end of each day. So I asked Zeng, and later  another photographer Wu Yong Fu, if they would be willing to allow me to collect the images and put them together in book form. They agreed so I bought them both portable hard drives. To date, I have collected over ten thousand of their images. The project as a whole, which consists of my photographs, the collected images and a film, offers insight into the complex and deepening relationship between China and Africa. Little North Road will be published in Fall 2015.”

Xiaoxiao Xu April 6, 2015

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Wenzhou Zoo, China 2013

Xiaoxiao Xu (b. 1984, China) moved to The Netherlands in 1999. In 2009 she graduated from the Photo Academy of Amsterdam. She was nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass. Her work has been exhibited at The Lianzhou Photo festival in China, PhotoVille (New York), Noorderlicht (Netherlands), and the FotoMuseum in Antwerp. They have been published in GUP and Photo Raw magazine. In September 2014 her book The Way To The Golden Mountain about her hometown in China was released. Xiaoxiao currently lives in Amsterdam.

About the Photograph:

“I made this portrait of a caretaker and his monkey in the zoo at Wenzhou as part of my journey back to my hometown after moving to Holland. It’s one of the favorite places from my childhood. The location is literally on a mountain in the middle of the city. This zoo creates the illusion of letting animals live in the wild. When I saw this caretaker with the monkey I was immediately fascinated by the way he treated animal. He held the monkey like it was his baby and played with him. And then it was time for a break when he gave the monkey the lollypop. It was the perfect moment for picture taking. The monkey is actually abandoned by his family, but adopted by this caretaker.”

Amanda Mustard November 17, 2014

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Cheng Yun, 75th Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. Nanjing, China 2012

Amanda Mustard (b. 1990, USA) is a freelance photojournalist based in Cairo. Born and raised on a Pennsylvania Christmas tree farm, she has worked on stories in Mid-East, China, and across Southeast Asia for Redux Pictures, Wonderful Machine, ZUMA Press, and Polaris Images. Amanda is a member of the Kōan Collective, Makeshift Magazine Editorial Board, and the Frontline Freelance Register Board. In 2013, she attended the New York Times Portfolio Review, Eddie Adams Workshop XXVI, and RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) Training. She is one of Photo Boite and the Telegraph’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers for 2014.

About the Photograph:

“This is a portrait of Cheng Yun, a 92 year old survivor of the 1937-38 Japanese invasion of China’s then-capital of Nanjing. In 2012, I began a Kickstarter-funded project to track down the few remaining survivors of the ‘Rape of Nanjing’, the 6-week occupation that claimed the lives of over 350,000 civilians, 80,000 of which were brutally raped. Cheng sat on his bed in an icy one-room flat in a slum that was, ironically, across the street from the multi-million dollar Nanjing Massacre Memorial complex. Surrounded by photos of his days as a military man in the Nationalist Army of the Republic of China, he divulged the true story of his past, only after learning that my good friend and translator’s grandfather escaped to Hong Kong when the Communist party took power. Unable to escape to Taiwan with his comrades, his subsequent refusal to tow the new party line landed him in a reeducation camp for eight years, and his pension and military merit were stripped from him. Today, he’s paraded as a ‘war hero’ by the party, but agrees to the public showings out of respect to the past, and in the hope he could somehow restore his standing.”

“Cheng took a risk that gave a whole new meaning to the project I had come to work on. Publishing his candid account of the current party’s faults could have had dire effects on him and his nephew, who was his only remaining family member and full time caretaker. In the meantime, I shared Cheng’s story with my Facebook friends and Kickstarter backers, asking for donations that could be given directly to him to help with his living costs and medical bills. In less than 24 hours, we received $1,100. Two years later, I found news that he had passed quietly in his sleep. Media reports surrounding his death are surreal, tailoring, omitting, and editing his statements to the point where his last words aren’t consistent. His suffering will never be easy for me to accept, but his perseverance and devotion to justice and the truth is something I will always carry with me both personally and as a journalist.”

Jian Gao October 13, 2014

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From the project ‘Red Fragments’ Chongqing.  2012

Jian Gao (b. 1987, PRC) is a social documentary photographer and staff member at Magnum Photos in New York. In 2012, he worked on a project- Red Fragments, traveling over ten thousand miles from northeastern China to the extremely far west  exploring social issues caused by Chinese government policies and their environmental impact. Jian is an alumnus of Eddie Adams Workshop and was nominated for World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in 2014. His work has been published in National Geographic, PDN, Communication Arts and  L’ Oeil de la Photographie. His work has been shown at The Municipal Museum, Malaga, Spain. World Affairs Council, San Francisco and DUMBO Arts Festival, New York.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of my long term project– Red Fragments, about Chinese culture and Chinese living conditions in several symbolic Chinese cities through a personal visual journal.  My goal was to capture the values, traditions and rituals of Chinese culture in these cities to mirror the reality that China is going through a the present time. I traveled through nine symbolic cities from the northeast to the extreme far west of China in this over ten thousand mile journey and focused on contemporary social issues such as the burgeoning tourism market rapidly increasing as the number of Chinese people who are eager to explore their country more than ever before. Real estate and construction are the main investment strategies of recent Chinese entrepreneurs, and at the same time it brings problems to the construction workers who cannot get paid immediately after they work. The price of homes is growing tremendously, and the gap between rich and poor is becoming even larger.”

“I took this photo in Chao Tian Men dock in Chongqing. The Yangtze River has a special meaning for most Chinese mainly because it serves as one of the mother rivers in the mainland. For me, it’s always connected to the Three Gorges Dam in some way. This huge water system project that drove so many people to move to other places and restart their lives. Newly built apartments are becoming more and more popular which indicates that the gap between rich and poor is getting larger and larger. I visited the same place five times while I was in Chongqing for around two weeks and was always drawn by the sadly romantic feeling of the Yangtze when I came across this man who was watching a kite.”

Matthew Niederhauser September 15, 2014

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Ai Weiwei poses in front of his studio with one of his cats. Beijing 2012

Matthew Niederhauser’s (b.1982, USA) interest in Asia and photography emerged in high school with Mandarin courses and late nights in the darkroom. His  photography covering youth culture and urban development in China has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Wired, Stern, Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Foreign Policy, and TIME His first monograph Sound Kapital delved into Beijing’s underground music scene through portraiture and concert photography. Otherwise he continues to concentrate on two projects entitled Kapital Creation and Counterfeit Paradises that explore harmonious cities and emerging consumer trends across China. Matthew earned his MFA in Art Practice through the School of Visual Arts which allowed him to continue his studies while remaining in the Middle Kingdom.

About the Photograph:

“I was very familiar with Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre before taking his portrait. A number of my friends work in his studio, and as an avid China watcher, I stay on top of his new creations and tangles with the Chinese Communist Party. He is always popping up in the news. This definitely put a little pressure on me before the shoot. I really admire how he holds himself and wanted to capture something that would stand out from his other portraits. Plus, I generally work in the moment, so I had to suss everything out in the hour allotted to me at his studio. Working with him ended up being a breeze, though. I spent about twenty minutes scouting the grounds before positioning him in various locations. I let him assume his own poses and offered suggestions occasionally. The only oddity was that Ai Weiwei enjoys taking photographs of photographers as they take his portrait. A number of my shots are of him with his iPhone trained on me. It became a bit of a game of cat and mouse as we took pictures of each other. This portrait was one of the last ones I took that morning. I wanted to capture him with one of the many cats that hang around his studio. I choose an orange kitten since it set off the teal of Ai Weiwei’s front gate so well. There was a tense moment when I didn’t think the kitten was going to cooperate, but it finally glanced back allowing me to get a few frames with everything melding together.”

William Eckersley February 17, 2014

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Boy playing, Chengdu Airport, China 2011

William Eckersley (b.1980, England) is a London-based photographer who studied at The London College of Communication and St. Martins, and recently began an MA at Westminster. His projects include Left London (2006), a review of derelict sites around his home city; U.S. 80 (2010), which focused on the landscapes and people surrounding America’s first coast-to-coast highway and Orwell (2012), which traces some of the locations of the renowned author’s life. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Telegraph and Creative Review as well as being held in the Nike and Sir Elton John collections.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken while in China filming a documentary on AIDS. Attitudes have now changed but many sufferers, as well as doctors, recalled traumatic early experiences in trying to get official recognition and help from the state. I shot a personal essay as we traveled the country with these thoughts in mind. The photos found a parallel with how people and nature were often struggling against the voracious, state-sponsored growth of the built environment. This image is of a young boy playing in the constructed pastiche of a traditional, rural landscape – euphemistically labelled as Home. He saw nothing unusual in the scene, a place to enjoy and explore; but I wondered how his parents nearby felt. Were they from a small village in the Szechuan hills? Had it, like many others, been demolished for urban expansion? Did they recognize the artifice in the modern environment their son now thought of as home?

Jonathan Browning January 16, 2014

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Tiananmen Square, Beijing 2013

Jonathan Browning (b.1983, England) earned a degree in Photojournalism from the University of South Wales in 2005. Two years later Jonathan went to China on an adventure and he has remained there ever since. He freelances for several clients including: Der Spiegel, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Australian, Financial Times and Harvard University. His work has been exhibited at the Host Gallery FOTO8 Summer show, London, Artisty Gallery, Shanghai and the AM Gallery, Brighton. Jonathan is based in Shanghai and  travels frequently throughout China documenting the massive social changes and economic growth the country has experienced during the last ten years.

About the Photograph:

“This image was shot for a story about pollution in China for Der Spiegel. It  was for the opener and I had been tasked with getting something a bit more original than just traffic jams and smog on Beijing’s ring roads. This was my second visit to the square at dawn, the previous day not resulting in a stand-out scene. For me, the daily flag raising ceremony is one of the must see’s in Beijing. It’s held at Tiananmen Square at daybreak and coupled with thick smog and the flood of red light from the large LED screens it makes for a dark and authoritarian space. I was lucky that all of the children and adults in the image wearing face masks. The assignment was in early 2013 when China suffered from particularly bad air pollution, especially in the capital where the levels of PM 2.5 were between 400 – 800. According to the World Health Organization, anything above 300 is considered hazardous.”

Go Takayama August 12, 2013

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Kyrgyz- Chinese family. One Year Death Anniversary of their Child.  Xinjiang, China 2012

Go Takayama (b.1982, Japan) grew up in Japan and spent most of his twenties in U.S.A. Over the past three years, he has been pursuing his own ethnic passion working on several personal projects in China. Go received a BA in visual communication and political science in 2008 from Ohio University. He attended Truth With a Camera Workshop (2007), American Diversity Project (2008), Missouri Photo Workshop (2009), Angkor Photo Workshop (2010), and the Eddie Adams Workshop (2011). He received Best of American Society of Media Photographer in 2012. His work has appeared in Prestige Hong Kong, ElleMEN, Aera, Casa Brutus and the Wall Street Journal.

About the photograph:

“This photograph was taken on the first day I met an ethnic Kyrgyz Chinese family, now the subject of my first series of The Edge, about the resettlement and urbanizing community as a result of the completion of the Kayi Expressway in Xinjiang Autonomous region of China. The parents of the family are retired nomads. Now only three out of six of their children carry on a nomadic life up in the mountains. When I arrived and saw their mud-and-thatch house, the family was having the first annual anniversary for their lost son, who died of poor health at only six years of age. The family members and their relatives were visiting the lost son’s grave as they cleaned and prepared a meal. The Kyrgyz Chinese are one of the Islamic minorities in China and transforming generations from nomadic herdsmen to fixed community residents. This is an on-going project to observe the changes imposed as their new town urbanizes after China’s completion of the world’s largest highway network.”

How Hwee Young February 8, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China, Mongolia.
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Shaman brothers, Ulan Bator, Mongolia 2012

How Hwee Young (b. 1978, Singapore) joined The Straits Times in 2001 as one of the few female photojournalists. In 2004 she joined the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) to cover Singapore and Southeast Asia until relocating to Beijing in 2010. She is primarily drawn to covering events involving the human condition like the 2004 Asian Tsunami or the 2009 Indonesian Padang Earthquake. She earned an Award of Excellence by Communication Arts 46th Annual photography exhibition in 2005 for her work on the Asian Tsunami. Her photographs have been published in: The International Herald Tribune, LA Times, The Sydney Herald, The Telegraph, New York Times, TIME magazine, Der Spiegel, and GEO Magazine among others. Young is based in Beijing.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of a series about a pair of Shaman brothers in Ulan Bator, Mongolia as they prepare to talk to me about their Shamanistic lives. Shamans are priests or mediums that act as vessels for spirits, gods and demons to communicate with the human world. In Mongolia, they adhere to the ancient beliefs of Tengrism, where spirits live in all of nature, in the sun, moon, lakes, rivers, mountains, and trees. This ancient faith predominated the land in the 13th century during the time of Genghis Khan or Chinggis Khan but was brutally suppressed under decades of communist rule from 1924 to 1990. Lately, this ancestor worship has seen a resurgence, as many sought to fill a spiritual void in a fast-urbanized landscape dominated by the burgeoning mining industry.”

 “Gankhuyag and his brother Batgerel became Shamans only two years ago where before they were only ordinary construction workers. Illnesses and misfortunes plague them and their family members, causing them to seek the advice of a Shaman. It was revealed then that they had been chosen by spirits to serve as Shamans. Only by doing so will their lives improve and avoid further miseries. Batgerel said ‘When I first heard that I have been chosen to receive the spirits, I did not believe it and was angry and ignored the calling. But my life became worse and I began to believe. After receiving the spirits, my life and health became better and now I live in happiness. I am very thankful to the spirits and this way of life’. The two brothers do not charge a specific amount for their Shamanic services which range from channeling advice from spirits to ‘curing’ diseases. Worshippers are asked to donate any amount they please. However, they warned that not all Shamans are genuine and many fake it for the money. For Gankhuyag and Batgerel, living with the spirits and their rituals, celebrating a connection to nature unique to their culture, is a way of life in the vast changing grasslands of Mongolia.”

Fabian Weiss November 19, 2012

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From a project about the gay community in Beijing, 2011

Fabian Weiss (b. 1986, Germany) received his undergraduate degree in journalism and diploma in photography in Vienna. In 2011 he moved to Denmark for a workshop based course in  Advanced Visual Storytelling and 2012 to London for the postgraduate program Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His work has recently been recognized internationally by Getty Images, the Lucie Foundation, the Ian Parry Award, the Pride Photo Award and the Austrian Press Award. His photo series have been featured in different media including Sunday Times Magazine, Private Photo Review, Photojournale and Le Journal de la Photographie and has been exhibited in the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Fabian is currently based in London.

About the Photograph:

“During my stay in Beijing documenting the habits of finding love in modern China, I came across a strong community of lesbian women, living their sexuality relatively secretive under the public radar. I spent one month following four lesbian women and met Xi, a 21 year old bisexual woman from Beijing, belonging to China’s rebellious post 90s’ generation. On one arm, she has tattooed Maria as symbol of the mother, who still plays the most important role in a Chinese family. On the other arm, she has incised her nickname – Vner – with a razor blade. Even though she is more open about her sexual orientation, being lesbian or bisexual still signifies harsh living conditions in modern China. Expectations of marriage towards a generation of single descendants are now stronger than ever and support for homosexuals is widely lacking. Xi is dating a lesbian at the moment, but to please her mother she will probably get married to a straight guy.”

Daniele Mattioli March 19, 2012

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Chongqing, China 2007

Daniele Mattioli (b.1964, Italy) is a self taught photographer who began his career in Asia and Australia where he was based for five years. Since 2000 he began focusing on China and has since relocated to Shanghai for the past seven years. He is represented by the Anzenberger Agency and his reportage on Chongqing was featured in the book East edited in 2008. His photos from Shanghai were included in Inside China produced by the National Geographic and in Shanghai: a History in Photographs, 1842 – Today published by Penguin. His editorial clients include: The New York Times, National Geographic, Newsweek, Vanity Fair Germany, Marie Claire, GQ, Amica, Focus, Brigitte (Germany), Panorama, Corriere Magazine among many others.

About the Photograph:

“I made this photo of office workers in downtown Chongqing jogging during a break from work. Chongqing is considered the largest mega-city in the world. Endless suburbs, speckled with fallow land of concrete. Chongqing is intended to adopt its share of the 150 million Chinese who are part of the economic giant’s largest rural exodus in history. My approach to photography has always been graphic, interested in people in their environmental, to translate society into colors, shadows, graphic elements. Photographing in China is very difficult, rarely can you see truth photojournalism here. Most of the foreigners who visit are following western editorial needs: the same stories over and over. Living here, I see the complexity of a such vast country. China is like an onion for me with many layers, each time you remove a layer tears come down.”

Philip Gostelow February 16, 2012

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From the Series: Shanghai Zeitgeist, China 2005

Philip Gostelow (1962, Australia) has worked with some of the world’s leading magazines including TIME, The Independent on Sunday Review, Figaro and Conde Nast Traveler – while shooting for corporate clients including HSBC and RBS. His photographs has been honored with awards in Australia and exhibited internationally  at the  Noorderlicht Photo Festival. His project Visible, Now – The Fragility of Childhood was published as an e-book in 2006 and his Black Christmas Bushfire Series (2001) is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. In addition to photography, Philip has written articles for Cathay’s Discovery, South China Morning Post and The Australian Financial Review, and is currently involved in the production of short film and documentary projects. He is currently based in Shanghai.

About the Photographs:

“These couple images are from my first series on Shanghai. It was also my last time using the beautiful square format of my beloved Hassleblad. I’d never been drawn to China – either culturally or geographically, though on this trip to Shanghai I was fascinated at its vastness and it’s somewhat over wrought attachment to Western style and materialism. The bicyclist caught struggling across an intersection just north of the Suzhou Creek in the Hongkou district, a hodgepodge of traffic and the city’s high-rise looming in the distance, epitomizes Shanghai’s frantic energy and development. The gyrating retiree on the Bund engaging in his early morning exercises shows that, for the moment at least, not all ritual and tradition has been lost to the headlong rush to modernize and develop.”

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