Saturday, 19 June 2010

Qi Lihe and a Sin City

Here is some work by British photographer Stephen Kelly, currently working in China, the first images below are from his series Qi Lihe:The series explores the district of Qi Lihe, which sits on the outskirts of Lanzhou city in Gansu Province, north western China.
It is home to thousands of Muslim migrant families who have left their homeland within the Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture and arrived into the city searching for job opportunities and ultimately, a better life. For hundreds of years the Hui and Dongxiang Muslim minorities have farmed the arid land surrounding their ancestral villages.
In recent years though, desertification has forced this once workable landscape to begin a dramatic change, impelling many modern day farmers and their families to migrate to the provincial capital in order to survive.

The photographs below are from Stephens Sin City:
The Sin City series documents life in China’s self-styled ‘city of dreams’. Situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, this semi-autonomous region of China is the sole territory within the People’s Republic that permits gambling.
In 2009, Macau’s thirty two casinos are reported to have made US $14.875 billion in gambling revenue, doubling that of Las Vegas.

See more of Stephens work here...

1 comment:

  1. This stuff is really pretty.

    Without the context of a magazine article or a wider appreciation of how these scenes fit into the broader economic and cultural changes of China, do you think these images on their own are enough to convey a strong enough sense of narrative?

    Does the aesthetic quality of these images provide enough compulsion for the audience to engage in?

    Although the images are lovely, the idea that these places exist in China, Las Vegas, Macau, Dubai, South Africa, Monaco, London to various degrees employ people who are on low incomes is nothing new or particular to society. Bad employers employ people on low wages based on a dream they did not verify beforehand - not nice but the story can be reduced to:-

    People get exploited in fast growing or poor industries.

    Photographers get paid almost nothing or in a lot of cases, literally nothing too!

    (Idea: Maybe someone should shoot a photo agency or magazine next to a portrait of a photographer with the words "Cost of Production" or indeed "Income received"!!!!)

    There seems to be an issue made out of a situation that does not appear to be dramatic so although I love the pictures, there is not the journalistic power to arouse anymore curiosity because there seems to be so little substance given the images of a normal casino town.

    They basically say in a very beautiful way "this place exists" - do you think this is enough to justify the existence of the work?

    Are we the viewing public able to see the story in pictures themselves or do we see a series of words used to justify some pretty landscapes and unremarkable social scenes in a "foreign" country?

    And if people do not care, how much can the photographer expect to get paid for these beautiful images?

    Just questions... good blog!