While China is often associated with boom and growth, particular in its booming metropole regions of Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, there are exceptions to the economical success story, too. In “Freezing Land”, Chinese photographer Chen Ronghui focuses on China’s northeastern region. Once a prosperous area due to its natural resources and help by the Soviet Union, China’s northeast now suffers an economic depression, with people forced to leave the area due to a lack of work.
Shot over a period of three years and relayed through a combination of landscape photographs and portraits, Chen Ronghui concerns himself with the lives of the younger generation in particular – those who now face a dearth of opportunities and never had a chance to experience the prosperity of their senior generations.
“Their voices were sparsely documented by Chinese media or through other mediums. Few people knew about their stories, colorful, yet full of loneliness.
I also photographed the derelict landscape – places that are once lively but now forgotten. During this process, the emotion expressed by these young people – a mixed sense of hesitation, loneliness, and hope – has brought me resonance.”
― from the artist’s statement
“Freezing Land” also includes the short story “Stone Prison” by Ban Yu as well as an afterword by Shi Hantao (all texts included in Chinese and in English translation).