02 August 2021
02 August 2021 - Selected by PHmuseum
In between a rapidly changing Chinese society and the rare effort to preserve the environment, photographer Pang Hai shows us the naive gaze of those who still believe and worship the immortality of rocks in a paradoxical attempt to gain their strength and capacity for survival.
Since ancient times the Chinese have always shown admiration for rocks and statues created by nature’s force, hoping one day to have a personality as strong as stones and be able to survive even under the toughest circumstances. In the Hebei province of China sits an ancient town, Quyang, abundant in natural-born rocks.
Two thousand years ago, the manufacture of rocks originated from this place, so naturally, it is wildly known to the public as the birthplace and manufacturing centre of northern carvings. The local citizens at Quyang rely on the mountains greatly, in fact, the primary industry ran there is quarrying. In the past few years, China’s economic development centre has alternated from extensive exploitation of raw resources to an area of high-cutting-edge technology. Quyang’s quarry industry is facing a brand new challenge, after putting a bigger effort into protecting the environment, which is resulting in a downgrade of the quarry industry along with the growth of the farming and animal husbandry industry. Even so, the local citizens still have high respect for the rocks, believing that they still have a lot to give which in reality isn’t the case.
The group of photos that I have captured reflects what life is really like there and the impact the environment has on living things. The key tone of my work is white, symbolises the simplicity, blankness and innocent thinking of the local citizens. They rely too much on natural resources, resulting in very narrow thinking when it comes to survival. With the rapid changes of society, they are faced with new survival problems and most of them hope that the following generation can change their fate. When time passes, people age and leave, but the rocks will stand forever. New and different groups of people will worship and praise it, but rocks can also be destroyed and damaged. Nothing is permanent, it’s just a matter of time, such rapid changes is a test of survival for all of us. This is also a common problem faced by China’s recourse consuming cities.
Words and Pictures by Pang Hai.
Pang Hai, born and based in Beijing, is a new media practitioner engaged in photography, video and text. His work mainly focuses on the daily life of people living in the present to explore the essence through the phenomenon. He explores the relationship between people and the environment, personal value orientation and human survival, to find the way to the future. Find him on PHmuseum.
This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.
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