Huangshan is one of China’s major touristic locations, a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracts millions of visitors annually, and the economy of Huangshan City still relies heavily on this tourism.
In this photo, taken by Tauno Tõhk, we can see the silhouette of a porter climbing through the mist, one of the many who travel up and down the mountain carrying supplies for the hotels and various facilities catering to tourists. Although there are many cable cars going up the mountain, these are for visitors, to experience new views of the beautiful landscape.
See more photos at Tauno Tõhk’s Flickr or his blog (in Estonian).
This photo of Kunming, much like Schoenmakers’ two weeks ago, highlights the juxtaposition of traditional and recent architecture that appears so frequently in China’s urban landscape. In the foreground we can see the rooftops around of the historical and cultural centre, which according to the photographer, had been recently renovated. He also explains:
Growing up in Kunming, I felt that it was fast developing city. The pleasant climate makes it a place businessmen want to invest and live in, and it is the rest stop for travelers visiting the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
JiKang Lee is a freelance photographer based in Kunming. You can see more of his work on Fotokon’s blog and his Flickr.
The Chongqing Municipality counts over 50 bridges, twenty or so in the urban centre. Aside from two exceptions, Baishatuo Railway Bridge and Shibanpo Bridge, all of these bridges were built and opened during the last 20 years.
One of the most recent projects in Chongqing is the creation of the “Liangjiang bridge”: two bridges and a tunnel which span the Liangjiang New Area, from the south bank of the Yangtze, crossing the Yuzhong district, to the north bank of the Jialing River. The twin bridges were designed by T. Y. Lin International. The Dongshuimen Yangtze River Bridge (above) has been complete since 31 March 2014. The Qianximen Jialing River Bridge (below) has yet to be finished, but should be opened in June 2014.
Once upon a time, the main method of crossing the Yangtze and Jialing rivers was the cable cars, or ropeways, swinging high over the city from one hilltop to the other. Until 1960, there were no bridges crossing the Yangtze River around Chongqing.
The picture above shows the remaining ropeway which crosses the Yangtze River, starting from the Yuzhong peninsula. It is still in use as transport, but mostly serves as a tourist attraction. In the top left corner, we can see the latest bridge of many which ousted the ropeways: the Dongshuimen Bridge. The Jialing cable cars (pictured below) ceased operating in December 2013, as they slowly fell out of use because of increasing alternative and easier routes, such as tunnels and, of course, bridges.
This is the first post in a series focusing on photos of China, taken under Creative Commons licenses. These will relate to the themes of UrbaChina: territorial expansion, migration, urban communities, sustainability, etc.
This photo taken by Kevin Schoenmakers in 2013 highlights the contrasting urban landscape of Shanghai. In the foreground, we can see an early 20th century lilong in the Zhabei District, Shanghai, and in the background, a new high-rise. The Zhabei District transformed after the Communist liberation in 1949, when destroyed buildings and shanty towns were razed to build new residential areas. That transformation continued in the 1990s when shikumen houses (such as the ones in the picture) were demolished to make way for new constructions built to meet Shanghai’s target development. The district’s low housing prices make it an attractive place for migrants and is often described as “up-and-coming”.
Kevin Schoenmakers is a Dutch photographer currently living in Shanghai. You can see more of his photos of China on his Flickr or his website.
This photo was taken last April behind the Huguang Guild Hall in Chongqing. Huguang Guild Hall is located in Chaotianmen, an old neighbourhood at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze rivers, which used to be the landing place for boats travelling on both rivers. Now this neighbourhood awaits its demolition. The guild hall, built during the reign of Qianlong, will remain standing while witnessing the high-speed modernization of the neighbourhood. The photo was taken just after lunch, the time of the siesta, a sacred custom in China.
The Chinese treasure the siesta, and devote at least half an hour a day for resting after lunch no matter where they are or what they are doing: white-collars take their pillows to their office and have no qualms falling asleep at desks; university students vanish as they go to their dorms to take a nap just after lunch and before afternoon classes resume. The siesta is regarded as a healthy activity according to Chinese medicine. This is an interesting philosophy when contrasted with the West, where it has almost become a synonym of laziness. Ever since I was a kid, whenever I went abroad, foreigners would tell me about the Spanish “easy” approach to work, something that was apparently related to our devotion to the siesta. In Spain, people have grown increasingly polarized about this topic, and most office workers said adiós to siesta a long time ago. The Chinese, on the contrary, seem to have got away with keeping it, and their reputation as tough workers remains intact despite adhering to this tradition. Also, they all seem to agree on the benefits of a good siesta.
Looking at this lady resting at the entrance of the temple enjoying the coolness provided by the stone walls, one feels inspired to make the best use of the idle afternoons of this summer interlude.
Yang Hui, known by his artist name Bahai, was born in Shanghai. He is a photographer and painter, who graduated from the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In 2010, àContreVue published an album of some of Bahai’s first photos of Shanghai in 1993, with the help of roots contemporary and Bergger. The àContreVue association’s mission is to support the work of photographers who have an alternative and humanist vision of our world (read more at their blog).
Yang Hui Bahai, painter, started photography when he returned to his hometown of Shanghai in 1992, after having spent three years in France. Camera in hand, he captures the changes in a city he believed his own but no longer recognises.
Since then, he has done one black and white story after another, snapshots of daily life: the last teahouses of Zhejiang Province, popular culture and religious traditions. Every season, he leaves his studio to capture shots based on chance encounters and then brings his pictures to life in the secret of his darkroom.
This selection depicts the inhabitants of an uncompromising Shanghai… A modern young woman turning away her eyes with disdain from a display of “shanghainese chickens” or fan repairers laughing behind their bowls of rice alcohol, those faces of seventeen years ago, serious or not, each tell the story of their city. They call the changes in Chinese society into question.1
These are the photos which inspired Françoise Ged’s book, Shanghai, presented last week. To learn more about Yang Hui Bahai visit his website and online photo gallery.
Ged, F. (2014). Shanghai. L’ordinaire et l’extraordinaire (Shanghai. The ordinary and the extraordinary). Paris: Buchet-Chastel.1
Shanghai is the mythical city par excellence. Able to renew itself cyclically, to continually rebuild, we could believe it locked in an absolute present, removed from its history, recent or ancient, without memory.
But what is true of the early 2000s is not necessarily so today. A leading city, a “laboratory” city, Shanghai has undergone some major upheavals. With large-scale constructions finished, the city turns to other sites and reclaims its history as it reclaims its territory. Society is primarily involved in these new adventures, which herald the face of China in years to come. Throughout this journey from the 1980s to the present day, Françoise Ged guides us through this city where the ordinary and the extraordinary exist side by side. Yang Hui Bahai’s photographs punctuate her narrative like guiding lights, signs of a disappearing era, to be replaced by a time not yet realised.2
Next week will have a post with more information on the Chinese photographer Bahai.