Philip Gefter on Chinese Photographer Hai Bo

Hai Bo, Man on Road

Passing Traveler, 2008. Copyright, Hai Bo

On the Daily Beast, Philip Gefter has a new essay on Chinese photographer Hai Bo.

Gefter is the author of Photography after Frank and former picture editor for the New York Times.

He writes of Hai Bo, “One image, Passing Traveler, 2008, has no visual cues to place it in time: The landscape is barren; the overall amber light might just as easily be sepia-toning from the 19th century as air pollution in industrialized China today; the figure in the center of the frame could be a soldier or a factory worker, but his clothes do not place him in any specific period in recent Chinese history. The combination of the season and the time of day in which Hai Bo chose to photograph render a mythic timelessness to these pictures of local residents making their way on a long empty road across the desolate countryside. “One can say that [these photographs] are elegies for the vanishing agricultural society of China,” Hai Bo has said about this work.”

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