COUNTRY OF AMBITION

YAN MING / ART HALL PARK

 

To tell about the world is to describe it. The photographer Yan Ming was born in the city of Bengbu in northern China in the 1970s but now lives in Canton. Ming studied Chinese and literature at university, after which he worked as a teacher, musician, editor and even as a photo journalist for some of the major Chinese dailies. Since 2010 he has been working successfully with his own projects as a freelance photographer. His works are shown all over the world and are popular among collectors.

 

The picture series “Country of Ambition” consists of around 80 photographs in all, some of which have been selected for exhibition at Landskrona Foto Festival. The photographs were taken with a Rolleiflex, the most common camera among photo journalists in the 1950s. Ming develops and copies in analogue form in the darkroom, For this series he used black and white film, and the original pictures have not been digitally altered.

 

Ming seeks to depict ordinary people, their ambitions and lives in a national context; in the tableaux that he captures, not much is happening but a great deal is revealed. China’s unique history, its population, nature and traditions are the motifs he looks for. The photographs in the series are beautiful, balancing the past and the future, the simple and the complicated, the documentary and the surrealistic. It is not a modern or international aesthetic he is after, on the contrary: “I worry that my work is not sufficiently Chinese or classical.” In Ming’s work there is a patience and a staying power, properties that come from the spark he thinks he inherited from his ancestors and that influence him as a photographer.