China fascinates me, from the Monumental to the Mundane. It is massive; both in size of land mass and sheer number of people. Prior to my first trip to China, my anticipation of what to expect was far different than what I actually experienced. Their culture is different and mysterious but only because I live over here and they live over there. I was just as much a mystery to them as they were to me. Not much was known about modern-day China before they opened up their borders to outsiders in the 1970’s. Yet in having traveled to China many times and interacted with their citizens on a more individual basis, I found that their needs, their way of life and living are not so different from mine; they need food, shelter and to belong. And of course, a little entertainment. Yes, there are lots and lots of people; more than 1.5 billion which is roughly 5 times the size of the United States. However, just beyond the masses of people are those much needed quiet moments that we all seem to need at one point in time.
I am drawn to the impact that people leave on their environment through art & architecture, the commercialization of a society and just the act of living. I often take images that reference people but they seldom are the focus of my images. China is changing rapidly. The rush to embrace capitalism as well as opening up its borders to tourism has impacted and changed the landscape of China. Any time a place gets hundreds of thousands of visitors to a specific destination, whether it is a monument, park or building, that site will change. Vendors, restaurants, restrooms, even the actual attraction may change, maybe some improvements or cleaning will be involved. Many ancient sites across China have received a face lift in part due to the 2008 Olympics as well as their own economic boom. There are sections of the Great Wall that have been rebuilt into pristine condition to accommodate the booming tourist industry. However, it makes it difficult sometimes to distinguish the historical from the modern. Buildings are buildings whether they are built today or centuries ago. But the historical significance is changed if it was rebuilt less than a decade ago making it difficult to differentiate between the historical and that of an amusement park.
I shot China with a Holga camera, for several reasons. It felt right to take a camera that was developed & made in the early 1980’s to provide an inexpensive way for the citizens in China to have a camera and take pictures. The overall image of a Holga is a little fuzzy, kind of like a memory that is a little more difficult to recall. Certain parts of a memory will be clear and others will be a little less. It gives the modern memory a dash of instant history.