With the Beijing Olympics about to get underway in August and the uprisings in Tibet, the eyes of the world are on China. The polarization of the media is focused on the protests around the world against the policies of the Chinese government with respect to Tibet, and as a result an understanding of the ordinary people is being lost. Through my photographic exhibit, I am attempting to get beyond the surface of the news events and see the people, not their government. The Chinese I met, while travelling in China in March 2007, were a gentle and friendly people who are facing profound social changes.
China is a country of contrasts with a very complex society. There is a tremendous rate of modernization taking place which co‐exists with its ancient history, art, and cultural traditions as it makes its entry into the 21st century.
The Chinese youth love all things western: the clothing, the music and the food, so it is not surprising that they embrace this modernity. It is an exciting time for them, which represents a hope that their future will be a prosperous and liberating one compared to that of their parents and grandparents. But for every modern building being erected, a traditional neighbourhood is being torn down and with it an ancient lifestyle is in jeopardy of disappearing.
In these traditional neighbourhoods, these very social people live their daily lives very much in public spaces such as on the sidewalks in front of their homes, not behind closed doors as we do in the west, and in the modern city streets of China. Through my approach to photography, it is the simplicity and beauty of this way of life that I wanted to capture through the lens of my camera. My images mainly focus on the traditional way of life, the face of China that is changing to make way for the modern world. I have interspersed some modern imagery in among the traditional to show the strides that China is making from its ancient past into the 21st century and to further emphasize the lifestyle that will one day be lost.