Pulitzer-winner seeks to show China's cultural diversity

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 30, 2016
Adjust font size:

Photography could play a significant role in promoting the diversity of Chinese culture and presenting a comprehensive landscape of the contemporary Chinese society, Liu Heung Shing, a Pulitzer-winning photographer renowned for documenting China in recent decades, told Xinhua in an interview.

Liu, 65, was in Brussels last week to inaugurate an exhibition titled "China: Grain to Pixel, 1980 to Today" which he co-curated with partner Karen Smith.

The exhibition, taking place at the Brussels China Cultural Centre, showcases 40 works by some of the leading Chinese photographers, drawing on a wide range of images from snaps of daily lives of ordinary Chinese to extravagant fashion spreads, as well as artistic digital images.

On the poster of the exhibition is a striking shot by popular female photographer Chen Man, of a young model in luxurious designer clothing passing in front of the Forbidden City on a vintage bike with a graceful posture.

"This image is powerful and interesting, and represents a message that we want to convey through the exhibition," Liu explained. "The evolution of photography mirrored the profound social and economic transformation of China, and every photographer demonstrates their own interpretation of this transformation process."

The Belgian capital is the first stop of the touring exhibition in Europe. Liu said he hoped European audience could gain from the show a better understanding of Chinese society and experience Chinese culture from various perspectives.

Born in Hong Kong, Liu grew up in Fuzhou in southeast China, and read international relations in the United States. He then went on to become a foreign correspondent and photojournalist for Time magazine and Associated Press.

The richness of Chinese culture and the possibility of interpreting China in so many different ways are the biggest motivation in his career, Liu said.

"As a photojournalist, I have kept my lens focused on China since the 70s. I always believe there is a way to use photography as a language, or a tool, for cultural communication. The times we are living in provide the best opportunity for photographers to tell the Chinese story."

The development of photography in China, from the 19th century when Westerners first brought a camera into the country to the present days when young Chinese artists use photographic techniques to realize innovative concepts, is an unique story itself, according to Liu, who founded in 2005 the Shanghai Centre of Photography, the city's first public art space dedicated solely to photography.

"During this process, we see that the works of Chinese photographers have become more powerful in terms of expression," he commented. "The key is to look for the most distinctive elements in different cultures, and to be able to elevate curiosity and stereotypes to dispassionate judgments."

Those who document a society with a camera must maintain a broad vision while observing, instead of keeping their eyes only on the dark side, he noted.

"When we look back, we see that all those changes happened in China within just some 30 years," said Liu, adding that "China in the 21th century is a big story influencing the whole world, and you have to keep your lens focused on China."

Liu said that the world expects a more comprehensive view of Chinese culture, and one of the crucial steps is to show the world a more "personalized" China.

"This means to break the Western stereotype of China as a mono-cultural society, and to boost communication between China and the West on the basis of mutual respect," he said.

The exhibition was first shown to the public in Shanghai in 2005. It embarked on its overseas tour in June with a successful debut at the Monash Gallery in Australia. The Brussels edition will run until Sept. 10.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter