Thursday, 21 October 2010

Xiaomei Chen: Puzhu

Photo © Xiaomei Chen-All Rights Reserved
Hands in Chinese Hakka culture are often a metaphor for the ability to work and survive; a symbol for diligence. "If you have hands, you never beg" the Hakka say.
And so reads a caption under one of Xiaomei Chen's photographs in her Puzhu gallery.

Xiaomei Chen had to choose between a Phd and a camera, and the camera won. Since 2006, she has been documenting human lives with it, using her background in anthropology. She's currently living in the US, and works as a contractor at The Washington Post. Having been a teacher in south China, she's fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka.

She embarked on a visual project documenting Puzhu, an obscure and shrinking village of 45 people in south China which mirrors what China has been going through in the past century. Farmers are leaving their land to earn better pay in the big cities such as Shanghai, leaving their centuries-old houses and way of life.

Puzhu In Transition was produced in partial fulfillment of a Masters of Art degree requirement for the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. It consist of stills, video and a book.

The book is available for sale on Blurb.