Photography: Eyes on China Project @eyesonchinaproject

Tuesday Chinese arts find thanks to a friend who forwarded this onto me from TIME Photo (thanks Alison!) – the Instagram only project called @eyesonchinaproject.

Offering new perspectives on China with 163 posted images to date, it was launched in June by Kevin Frayer, a freelance photojournalist for Getty Images with 25 years of experience who moved to China two years ago, and Fred Dufour, a French photojournalist who works for Agence France-Presse in Beijing. Acknowledging that the work of local and foreign photographers were not reaching international audiences and that there was no dedicated space for photography portraying China, they came together with said photographers to create @eyesonchinaproject aiming to give viewers ‘one place to go to get a very broad look at this country.’ Kevin was ‘not prepared to find a place of such complexity’ and in a recent interview with TIME said,

“China’s incredibly unique…It’s just a massive, incredibly dynamic, exciting country that is literally impossible for one person to create a larger visual narrative of. [And] because you don’t have contact immediately with Chinese photographers, you feel like you have the country all to yourself.” – TIME Interview

‘Kevin did not set any boundaries other than a posting schedule. The feed does not have a curator, and photographers are free to share old and new work no matter their aspect ratio. “We’re not crafting this thing…I think that the success of it is it’s not crafted.” The photographers collectively and collaboratively learn from each other looking at the regular and mundane sides of life, routines and rituals, urban architectures and rural interactions, to the documentary of hidden perspectives and corners of China you’d never usually have access to, such as photographer Zhang’s series of portraits of Chinese artists with autism. Read more about the artists here in the article by Ye Ming. They’re honest, sensitive and real…this is the here (hear) and now of China…and I almost wish it came with a soundtrack.

Instagram is only accessible in China through the use of a VPN, a proxy used to jump the firewall, therefore this censorship hinders its impact and platform in China. To be seen more, it has been suggested that the group publish on platforms preferred by Chinese users such as WeChat, a mobile messaging app, or Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. However, I fear this might change or even dilute the nature of the project and open it up even more to the power of censorship. I wonder if the project is being backed up and documented offline as such?

To date there are 19 regular contributors, 12 of them foreign photographers based in China, who are Frayer, Dufour, Sean Gallagher, Martina Albertazzi, Teo Kaye, Gilles Sabrie, Adam Dean, Giulia Marchi, Chi Yin Sim, Matjaz Tancic, Sharron Lovell and Johannes Eisele, and seven local photographers: Yuyang Liu, Yan Cong, Lijie Zhang, Bowen Liu, Zhou Wang, Qi Tian and Hao Wu. The particpants will grow over time with more focus on Chinese artists. A selection of images are shown at the end of this blog post.

The images immediately reminded me of the photographers I worked with and curated as part of ‘The Temporary: 01 – Architectures of Change’ by Liz Hingley, Daniels Langeberg, Phillip and Anthony Reed, Peter Dixie, Mengxi Zhang, Xie Jiankun, Xiaoxiao Xu, Fan Shi San, and Li Hui. Their works were displayed in digital and print format portraying abstract, in part unidentifiable “architectures of change” – architectural, urban and social factions of China, Europe and the UK, and the notion of living in this transculture between different cities. I still need to blog and write about this in full…the e-catalogue and website is being designed by a friend as I type! Not long until I can share it with you. In the meantime, I think I’m going to try and connect some of them to Kevin and Fred…”connecting the dots that people can’t see” as wordgirl standard. In fact, I might try and catch up with them whilst I am in China this September…

@eyesonchinaproject instagram 2

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@eyesonchinaproject instagram 1

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