Playground . Red Fragments— is a long-term documentary photography project I did last year that shows Chinese culture and Chinese living conditions in several symbolic Chinese cities through a personal visual journal. For the past two years, I have been travelling to cities like Shantou, Hong Kong, Kashgar, Beijing, and Shanghai to photograph life in the streets of mainly the first, second and third generation of Chinese families. 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 transition.
I travelled through nine symbolic cities from the northeast to the extreme far west of China on my own in this over ten thousand mile journey. I focused on contemporary social issues during my trip such as the burgeoning tourism market- there is a rapidly increasing 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, usually a few months later. The price of homes grows tremendously, and the gap between rich and poor becomes even larger. When I worked on my project in the Muslim community in Kashgar City, traditional Muslim houses were being demolished and Uighurs could not get enough money to purchase a new living space. It raised tension between Han Chinese and Uighurs. An article from the Wall Street Journal states that “64 million households have had their land seized or their homes demolished. Most of those who lost their land were in rural areas on the fringes of cities that are rezoned for development.”(online.wsj.com). Currently, migration issues in China are a widely discussed topic. Every year, large numbers of people who live in poor rural areas move to cities to pursue better lives. For example, Hong Kong has plenty of shantytowns that are built on top of apartment houses by illegal immigrants from Mainland China. Some other rural areas in Guizhou and Yunnan Provinces’ immigrants migrate to Guangdong Province to work in the electronic-waste “industry” in order to make more money regardless of the negative environmental impact.
Red not only refers to the Communist Party, but also traditional Chinese culture. Fragments refers to my photographic contents, they are not a specific narrative story, and can be regarded as fragments. By putting these fragments together, I give the audience an opportunity to feel and see what is going on in today’s China. I want my viewers to think about the images for a while, and ask themselves questions related to my work. I am not trying to judge what I see in my viewfinder; I am trying to simply show those who are interested, what is going on in another corner of the world