China Stories

Ruskin Gallery - Cambridge School of Art (CSA)
at Anglia Ruskin University



Harvey Benge - Auckland, New Zealand
Oyvind Hjelmen - Stord, Norway
Ferit Kuyas - Zürich, Switzerland
Pok Chi Lau - Kansas City, USA
Elaine Ling - Toronto, Canada
Christopher Rauschenberg - Portland, USA
Gerard Saitner - Bangkog,Thailand
Wolfgang Zurborn - Cologne, Germany

Harvey Benge – China Story
My pictures explore the strange anthropology of cities. The unusual and overlooked in the human landscape. I am asking the viewer to question the idea that photographs as documents are complete representations of subject. I'm interested in the universality of life and the idea of parallel lives - when one thing is happening here, something else is happening over there. The democracy of non-places fascinates me, in the knowledge that inevitably nothing is as it seems. There is something that always hits you in any city and becomes a sort of visual leitmotif. These are series I made in 2006 and 2007 when I was a guest at the Pingyao Festival in Shanxi Province China. "While something is happening here, something else is happening over there". He works from both Auckland and Paris. -

Oyvind Hjelmen – Journey Elsewhere
In December 2007, I travelled through China. To me China is a truly exotic place — with its wild natural beauty, and different peoples and customs, and richly complex man-made environments loaded with contrasts and history. And when I travel to such a place, my photographs are not meant to show what China looks like. Instead, I try to note my impressions of little bits of grace and surprise that I discover day by day.
In my work, I try to capture an absence of noise. This does not mean that the situation or place I photograph has to be quiet, but I strive to achieve an absence of noise in my finished images. Despite how raw, ugly and gritty real life can be, I always look for beauty. I don't say this in a naive sense; from experience I know that I can find an element of beauty and silence in almost every situation I encounter. -

Ferit Kuyas – City of Ambition – Fast Forward in China
This is a visit to one of the largest cities in the world, Chongqing, populated by roughly 32 million people. The city is located in Southwest Chin’ region of Sichuan. Chongqing was the capital of China during World War II. Like most of my work also this project has autobiographic roots: I got to know the city through my in-law-family who lives there and makes me feel at home.
Chongqing was granted municipal status in 1997, rather late compared to Shanghai. But the people of Chongqing are very eager to show the world and their sister cities in China who they are. Together with the booming economy this leads to an explosion in city development. Construction sites and thousands of cranes everywhere. What is taking place there resembles the ongoings in Manhattan in the twenties – when Manhattan was built. So I think Stieglitz’ quote “City of Ambition“ wraps up the situation in Chongqing quite well. -

Pok Chi Lau - Flow China 1979 - 82
"After doing this work for over 30 years I am lost for words as for a statement of work. I live in my work, and I escape from it every once in a while to see what I am up to. The context is so complex because it is not about what I have done, but my perception of the world of China in her contemporary history, most of which gets lost in translation."
When Lau was 19 and living in Hong Kong, his parents borrowed enough money to pay for two cameras, a plane ticket and college tuition. He studied at the Brooks Institute of Photography and the California Institute of the Arts. In 1977 he became professor of design at Kansas University. I travelled to the Mainland China in the 1970s, and I photographed the daily lives of my relatives and their friends and neighbours. I went back again in 2005 to revisit the places I had been to before. In a back alley on the posts of crumbling walls covered in peeling paint, I found the remnants of Cultural Revolution slogans. These buried reminders of the past keep resurging before our eyes. -

Elaine Ling – Stone to Stone
China Stones is a journey (1995) down the Spirit Road of the tombs of the ancient emperors and nobles, shaped some 1500 years ago. The Shen Lao (Spirit Road), a long avenue flanked on either side by pairs of stone sculptures of animals and figures, leads up to a carefully fashioned earth tumulus beneath which lies the underground palace in which the emperor's body rested surrounded by treasures and other objects placed for use in the afterlife.
My photography expedition took me to spirit roads of the Ming and Sung dynasty. My search for stone sculptures continued to the Buddhist caves. During the Northern Wie Dynasty, 460 to 494 AD, the Yungang Caves were cut into the Southern cliffs of the highest part of the Wuzhoushan sandstone range. More than fifty caves contain over 50 thousand statues. -

Christopher Rauschenberg – China 1985
Chris Rauschenberg was travelling 1985 in China with his father Robert Rauschenberg, who had just started the project "ROCI - Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange" and was also showing and working on it in China. Chris is looking at the urban spaces in China in a very fragmentary view. Objects of everyday life are developing an absurd own life. His panoramic photographs are forcing the very subjective construction of space.
Born in New York in 1951. Co-founder and Board member of Photolucida. Founder and Board Chairman of Blue Sky Gallery, where, over the last 32 years he co-curated and co-produced 690 solo exhibitions. -

Gerard Saitner - Genius of a Place
When I discovered Pingyao, it seemed to me as a place where time almost stood still, empty and muted, pervaded by melancholic atmosphere that expresses ambivalence toward the rampant urbanization of China. This general tone is reinforced by an almost desaturated palette of blacks, browns and greens - a reference to the near-monochromatic colour schemes of classical Chinese painting.
This place was a place where there was a chance to see differently. The pictures here are the product of two conditions: awareness and time.This series in Pingyao was done in 2004.

Wolfgang Zurborn – China! Which China?
In June 2006 I visited Beijing and Shanghai. The challenge of the encounter with the unfamiliar world was to transform the personal experience of the highly complex and interlaced parallel worlds of these "Megacities" into an individual picture language which should not keep the unknown in the realm of the exotic but which discovers the nearness in the strange.