The Chinese Photojournalist Maohair – ESWN

20060501 04 From EastSouthWestNorth blog (link):

There is a popular post at NetEase (copied at 6park part 2 and part 1) which is a selection of the works of the Chinese photojournalist Maohair (毛孩儿). The man has an MSN Spaces weblog called 小猴悟空. The top post is a slide show for some of his work, bearing in mind that he is only 23 years old. On the blog, the self-secription of Maohair is:

On the business card, the title ‘photojournalist’ is printed. But I am actually just a peasant who likes to play around with a camera.

Here is a photograph purportedly of Maohair himself.

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In the following, a subset of photographs have been chosen from the NetEase post. These were selected in part because of their shock value, and therefore you are forewarned that some of the photographs may make you feel uncomfortable.

The first striking thing is about the photographer himself. Bearing in mind that Maohair is only twenty-three years old, one has to wonder how he manages to put himself in the right place at the right time so often. You should also bear in mind that photographing probably should not have been allowed in some of the situations, either because it was interfering with rescue activities, or because it touched upon taboo subjects (e.g. mining accidents), or because it intruded into privacy. So when you look at these photographs, you should also think about the circumstances under which they were taken. Most of them were probably hit-and-run opportunistic, although it was clear that the photographer must have created the opportunities by wile and determination.

The second striking thing is that these photographs from a young photographer communicate a portrait of Chinese society that even words cannot. It is extraordinary that this body of work should come from a photojournalist based in Shenyang. By comparison, for example, there are undoubtedly all sorts of photojournalists in Hong Kong or New York City but it is hard to imagine that any of them would have a body of work like Maohair that seems to capture the spirit and mood of his society in such stunning fashion. Could it be that there are simply many more unusual things happening in a rapidly changing society in China than elsewhere at this moment?

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Car accidents occur often, but it is rare to see one of this magnitude in which the driver was only slightly injured.

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Fetching dead fish from the contaminated river.

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Migrant workers climb up the construction towers at the site to demand their back wages.

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The restaurant owner just had an ecounter with municipal administrators who were trying to get rid of sidewalk restaurants.

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Mr. Zhao’s 14-year-old Internet addict son has disappeared from home for more than one week. Mr. Zhao has been looking him for all day in the Internet bars. It is now dark, and he still has no luck.

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A fire swept through the warehouse of an underpants distrbutor. The more than 100,000 pairs of underpants in the warehouse got wet. They are being laid out to be dried in this sun.

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At a construction site, the man named Zhou had just called his wife in Hubei. Then tears began to stream down his face.

In the construction business, unpaid wages are a frequent thing.

April 30, 2006, 11:17 PM
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