Freezing Land is a series of photos made, on the road, across northeastern China’s countryside that mixes landscape photography with environmental portraits. It is a story about the shrinking cities in northeastern China and their lonely young people. The northeast was the wealthiest area in China, bordering Russia and North Korea. With the help of the Soviet Union, it developed heavy industries and stayed prosperous for years. This land represented China’s communist roots and authoritarianism. But now, it has become the most recessionary land in China, with shrinking cities and declining population. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping started a campaign for the “Chinese Dream.”
Chen Ronghui asked himself the question: What does this dream mean to the young people living in the northeast, the once prosperous land? It is difficult to encounter subjects on the street in an environment of minus 30 degrees centigrade. Therefore, he used a social media app “Kuaishou” looking for young people who were willing to share their stories. The young people he choose were experiencing a sense of uncertainty. They were facing a choice to leave for challenges in bigger cities, or stay behind and embrace their fate. Their voices were sparsely documented by Chinese media or through other mediums. Few people knew about their stories.
Chen Ronghui (b.1989, Hangzhou, China)
Chen Ronghui is a photographer and storyteller of long term projects based in Hangzhou/New haven, whose work focuses on China’s urbanisation. He has devoted himself to study the relationship between China’s massive urbanisation and individual’s experiences. Beside his professional practice, Chen also is the head of the visual department of Sixth Tone, a Shanghai local English-language digital publication. He won a number of awards including the World Press Photo, Three Shadows Photography Award and the Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award.
More information: www.ronghuichen.com