Monday, 19 February 2007

Katharina Hesse: The Stilt Walkers of China

The Stilt Walkers- Image Copyright Katharina Hesse

In recognition of the Chinese New Year, another highly talented photojournalist to grace TTP blog is Katharina Hesse, a photojournalist living in China and Germany. She holds a graduate degree in Chinese studies from the Institut National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, and is one of a few foreign photographers who are accredited by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and lived in China for more than 13 years. In 2003 and 2004 she covered China for Getty ’s news service. Hesse is self-taught in photography, albeit with a temporary apprenticeship under Peter Turnley.

Apart from her sensitive work documenting the North Korean refugees in China, have a look at her photo essay on the stilt walkers of Yanqing. It seems that the tradition of stilt walking has virtually vanished from other Chinese towns and cities except in shows for tourists. Its relative remoteness has protected Yanqing's traditions, and farmers proudly continue their annual stilt walking performances that culminate in the annual contest for best costumes and performances among neighboring villages. Stilts were first used hundreds of years ago in China when farmers stood on stilts to pick fruit from trees.

Katharina Hesse