Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Blank Lands | In Search of Zhuang Xueben



A friend, Matteo Vegetti referred this very interesting project to me a few weeks ago and whilst, I don't feature crowd funding projects on this blog, this particular one captured my imagination for its novelty, difficulty and exoticism.

Zhuang Xueben (1909-1984) was a young photographer from Shanghai, who was the first to photographically describe China's blank lands; its territories that in the 1930s were not yet plotted on publicly available maps. He did so with thousands of photographs and detailed diaries, collected over 10 years of travel from 1934 onwards.

His pioneering work opened a window on a little-known parts of China, often unexplored and yet regarded with great prejudice. He was able to reveal the richness of local cultures and ethnic groups such as the Tibetans, Yi, Qiang, Tu and Salar.

Photo ©Zhuang Xueben-All Rights Reserved
The project seeks to trace the history of this pioneering Chinese photographer Zhuang Xueben who, because of the Cultural Revolution, faded into undeserved oblivion.

His name and work have only recently resurfaced. After the chance discovery of his first book of photographs, reprinted decades later, the Blank Lands project came to life and has been developed collectively by Alessandro Galluzzi, Ralph Kronauer, Federico Peliti and Luca Tommasini, who make up the Blank Lands Collective and are co-producers of the project with Nacne, HLJTV and ICTV Solferino.

Should readers of this blog be interested in supporting (or reading more about) this project, its crowd funding page is Blank Lands - Searching for Zhuang Xueben.