using a lens to export China

September 20th, 2008

ESWN has a link in the recommended readings- Greater China-Chinese section which I found interesting. Long, but interesting. It’s a Southern Weekend article entitled “Using a Lens to Export “China”“, by Li Nan and Zhu Youke, and it comes with a couple of cool photos from the early 80s.

用镜头出口“中国”

Using a Lens to Export China

作者: 李 楠 朱又可 发自广州 2008-09-17 17:34:21

By Li Nan and Zhu Youke, from Guangzhou

2008年9月7日,在广东美术馆多功能厅,刘香成先生与第三届广州三年展策展人、印度裔英国艺术家萨拉·马哈拉吉现场对话。并播映刘香成的“透过图象思考”的中国图片,没有解说,但配了背景音乐,都是各个时期烙印最深的旋律,看后有一种深深的感动。

On September 7, 2008 in the multi-media hall of Guangdong Museum of Art, Mr Liu Heung Shing and curator of the Third Guangzhou Triennial, British artists of Indian descent Sarat Maharaj held a dialogue. Although the broadcast of the photographs of China from Liu Heung Shing’s “Thinking Through Images” had no explanation, but the music matched with the backdrop, was all the most deeply branded melodies of each period, and watching left one very deeply moved.

“美国一般的记者不敢写对中国有好感的稿子,只有大牌记者,像《纽约时报》的专栏作家才敢自由地表达,美国媒体也超越不了意识形态。北京奥运会举办得很成 功,这次来北京看了的人,对美国媒体以往的有些报道不满,认为记者没有真实报道中国。不报道安全着陆的飞机,光报道失事的飞机。”前美联社资深记者、默多 克新闻集团常务副总裁、全球华人惟一的普利策新闻奖获得者、摄影家刘香成先生在接受南方周末记者采访时说。

“Ordinary American journalists don’t dare to write favourable reports about China, only journalists from the big names, like the New York Times columnists, dare to freely express themselves, and the American media can’t transcend this ideology. The Beijing Olympics were run very successfully, and the people who came to Beijing to see were very dissatisfied with several previous reports in the American media, feeling that journalists hadn’t accurately reported on China. Didn’t report on planes that safely landed, only reported plane crashes.” Former AP senior reporter, managing vice director of Murdoch’s News Corporation, and the only Chinese winner of the Pulitzer Prize in the world, and photographer Mr Liu Heung Shing said in an interview with Southern Weekend reporters.

最近塔深出版社出版了刘香成的《中国:一个国家的肖像》,书中选择中国88位摄影家的上千幅图片,时间起始于1949年,止于2008年,检索新中国将近 60年历史,把中国摄影家眼中的中国“出口”到海外,一时成为全球九十多篇书评谈论的热点,德国《明镜》评论说,从这本书看到了中国的巨大变化。

Recently Taschen published Liu Heung Shing’s China: Portrait of a Country, a book in which he chose over 1000 photographs from 88 Chinese photographers covering a period from 1949 to 2008 and the almost 60 years of New China’s history. By “exporting” the China in the eyes of Chinese photographers overseas, it became for a time the hot topic of discussion of more than 90 book reviews worldwide, with Germany’s Der Spiegel commenting that from this book China’s great changes can be seen.

刘香成说:“时光流逝,历史的碎片——特别是照片——其价值也会发生变化。这个图集展示的是中国虽历经磨难而顽强崛起的伟大历程。它同时还演绎了中国重新步入世界舞台、重新定义其国际贸易者的角色以及在政治领域逐渐成为不可否认的大国的这一征程。”

Liu Heung Shing said, “Time passes, and the value of history’s fragments- especially photographs- can also change. What this collection of photos shows is that although China has experienced many hardships, a great course has tenaciously risen. At the same time it also follows China’s re-entry onto the world stage and redefines the role of its international traders and its journey to gradually becoming an undeniably great nation in the political realm.

[Help! Among, I am sure, many mistakes is my complete inability to figure out this phrase: 而顽强崛起的伟大历程. Help!- see Ji Village News’ comment for clarification.]

几乎是银发的刘香成先生用的是英语,照顾听众中来自四十多个国家的178位参展艺术家。第二天,他和大部分参展的艺术家都飞上海参加9月9日的上海双年 展。与上海的“快城快语”的轻松相比,刘香成说,“我的摄影经验从某种程度上可以印证广州三年展‘与后殖民说再见’的主题”。

It’s as if the silver-haired Liu Heung Shing was using English The almost silver-haired Liu Heung Shing used English, showing consideration for the audience of 178 artists from over forty countries taking part in the Triennial. On the second day, he and most of the participating artists flew to Shanghai to take part in the Shanghai Biennale on September 9. Comparing with the lightness of Shanghai’s “Trans Local Motion”, Liu Heung Shing said, “Seen from any angle, my photographic experience can confirm the theme of the Guangzhou Triennial, “Farewell to Post-Colonialism.””

[Help! Is there a typo in here? The Shanghai Biennale theme seems to be ‘快城快客’, not ‘快城快语’- yes, there is a typo.]

云南思茅,三个穿仿军服的青年戴着墨镜。1980年 刘香成作品, In Simao, Yunnan, three youths in army clothes wearing sunglasses. Liu Heung Shing, 1980.

云南思茅,三个穿仿军服的青年戴着墨镜。1980年 刘香成作品

In Simao, Yunnan, three youths wearing army-style clothes and sunglasses. Liu Heung Shing, 1980.

戴着黑纱打太极

Wearing black armbands practicing Tai Chi

“与后殖民说再见”,似乎到了提到议事日程的时候了。在与萨拉教授对话中,刘香成先生提到中国文化正在走向世界的中心,“但目前还是边缘”。与后殖民的这个“再见”是到了该说的时候,但真正实现,需要几代人的努力。

It seems the time to put the discussion of “Farewell to Post-Colonialism” on the agenda has arrived. In his dialogue with Professor Maharaj, Mr Liu Heung Shing said Chinese culture was moving towards the centre of the world, “But at present it’s still marginal”. It’s already time this “Farewell” was said to Post-Colonialism, but it’s true fulfillment will need the hard work of several generations.

“‘后殖民’是萨义德在他的《东方学》一书中提到的一种西方殖民主义者看待殖民地的眼光,而被殖民的地方的人到西方学习以后,回到东方看待自己的审美眼光还是殖民者的那一套,这种‘东方想象’影响深刻,一代两代是不容易消解掉的。”

“‘Post-Colonialism’ is one perspective of western colonialists regarding colonies mentioned in Said’s book Orientalism, and after the people of colonised areas who went to the West to study returned to the east their perspective regarding themselves was that of the colonists. The influence of this “imagination of the East” is deep, and can’t be easily erased in one or two generations.”

刘香成作为一个足迹遍全球的国际新闻摄影师,对后殖民在摄影学中的经验有自己的印证:“从1942年延安文艺座谈会以来强调文艺是工具,这个工具为政治服 务,为意识形态服务,但意识形态随着不同时期的政治运动的影响也在变化。这样很多时候,西方人不大了解中国,中国人也因为意识形态的影响自己看自己也不一 定看得很准确。”中国人对自己的认识夹在两种不同的视角之间。

As a master of international news photography who has left his footprints all over the globe, Liu Heung Shing has experienced his own confirmation of Post-Colonialism in photography: “Since the 1942 Yan’an Arts Forum stressed taht art is a tool for political and ideological use, but ideology has changed under the influence of the political movements of different periods. This way many times Westerners don’t really understand China, and Chinese people can’t necessarily see themselves very clearly because of the influence of ideology. ” Chinese people’s knowledge of themselves is caught between two different angles of view.

作为驻外记者,刘香成每次刊发作品时都会与美国同事交换对中国政治的看法。他发现很难把真实的中国融入美国报纸的报道日程中去,这和西方媒体多年来习惯的报道方式以及美国记者采写中国新闻的困难有关:特别是言语不通,美国媒体所抽象化的中国并非一个真实的中国。

As a foreign correspondent, every time Liu Heung Shing published an article he would exchange opinions on Chinese politics with his American colleagues. He discovered it was very difficult to insert the real China into American newspapers’ reporting agenda. This and the reporting methods western media had become accustomed to over many years is related to American reporters’ difficulties in reporting Chinese news: especially with the linguistic difference, the China presented in the American media is not a real China.

“从2000年起,中国逐步从世界舞台的边缘走到了中心,加入世贸组织后,中国在亚洲以及全球的的影响成为热门话题,随着认识的深入,西方媒体看中国的视角发生彻底的变化。尽管北京直到2001年才获得奥运主办权,我还是好奇这会对‘中国叙事’发生怎样的影响。”

“From the year 2000, China has moved step-by-step from the edge to the centre of the world stage. After entering the World Trade Organisation, China’s influence in Asia and the whole world has become a hot topic. With its deepening knowledge, the western media’s point of view on China has undergone thorough change. Even though Beijing won the right to host the Olympics in 2001, I’m still curious to see what influence this ‘Chinese narrative’ will have.”

刘香成1951年生于香港,童年在福建度过。1966年回过中国,1976年毛泽东逝世时他从罗湖口岸过关到广州,在珠江边看到老年人戴着黑纱在打太极拳,他从他们的脸上的表情里并没有看到想象中的悲哀,这令他吃惊。

Liu Heung Shing was born in Hong Kong in 1951, and spent his childhood in Fujian. In 1966 he returned to China, then in 1976, when Mao Zedong passed away, he crossed into Guangzhou at the Lowu border crossing, and saw old people wearing black armbands practising Tai Chi by the Pearl River. He didn’t see the sadness he imagined in the expressions on their faces, which surprised him.

1978年刘香成成为《时代》周刊第一个驻北京的首席记者,1981年又成为美联社第一个驻北京首席记者,后来被美联社派往印度工作4年,接着是美联社驻 莫斯科记者,他就是因独家拍摄戈尔巴乔夫辞职时撂下讲演稿的一瞬间而获得普利策新闻摄影奖的。离开美联社后,他做了时代华纳驻中国首席代表,接着是做默多 克新闻集团常务副总裁,现在是美国 CAA(CreativeArtAgency)高级顾问,定居北京。他几乎与新中国同步走过了前三十年和后三十年。“我在苏联、印度、美国的工作期间,每 到一个新的国家,都增加我对中国的了解。”

In 1978 Liu Heung Shing became Time magazine’s first bureau chief in Beijing, then in 1981 he became AP’s first bureau chief in Beijing. Later he was sent by AP to India for 4 years, then became AP’s Moscow correspondent. It was because he was the only person to photograph the moment of Gorbachev’s resignation speech he won the Pulitzer Prize for news photography. Leaving AP, he became Time-Warner’s chief representative in China, then managing vice director of Murdoch’s News Corporation. He is now a high-level consultant for America’s CAA (CreativeArtAgency) and has settled in Beijing. He seems to have walked the first 30 years and later 30 years together with New China. “When I was working in the Soviet Union, India, America, whenever I arrived in a new country my understanding of China would increase.”

每当刘香成对中国人谈到中国的土地比印度贫穷时,总能看到中国人的脸色一沉,接受不了,他说,“土地贫瘠是老天爷的事,和你没关系呀”。1997年他到上 海,看到当地人在马路上喝豆浆的景象,人们的反应也是不高兴。“什么是真实?什么是正确?”他很平和地问道。海外的读者正在通过他选择的生活图片,看到中 国社会的进步。

Every time Liu Heung Shing tells Chinese people how China’s land is poorer than India’s, he sees their face fall, they can’t accept it. He says, “Poverty of the land is God’s business, it’s got nothing to do with you.” He went to Shanghai in 1997 and saw local people drinking soybean milk on the roadside, people’s reactions were also unhappy. “What is real? What is correct?” he gently asked. Through the photographs he has chosen, overseas readers can see the progress of Chinese society.

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DAMMIT! The caption for this photo and final dozen-odd paragraphs have disappeared into the ether, and I don’t have time to re-translate it all again today!

4 Responses to “using a lens to export China”

  1. eswn Says:

    earlier this year, Beijing News published a feature story on Liu Heung Sing and included a photo “The Wounded” that showed civilian casualties on 6/4/1989. the newspaper had to scramble to retrieve all copies from the newsstands. but that was a local incident, and the people in guangzhou went ahead to honor liu heung sing again knowing that many people were aware of “The Wounded” via the Internet.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Ah, yes, I remember that incident. Quite amusing. Unfortunately I didn’t get a copy of the paper…

    It’s good to see he’s being honoured down in Guangzhou. Thanks for the background info.

  3. Ji Village News Says:

    而顽强崛起的伟大历程: the great process of tenacious rising, [despite many hardship it endured: 虽历经磨难]. I think that’s the idea.

    几乎是银发的刘香成先生用的是英语: the almost silver-haired Liu Heung Shing used English. I think the author probably might meant 几乎是‘满头’银发的刘香成先生用的是英语.

    There is a typo, it should be‘快城快客’, not ‘快城快语’

    I haven’t read Said’s Orientalism, but I really like the idea there. It’s on my to-read list now.

  4. wangbo Says:

    Thanks, Mr Ji, that’s much appreciated.