The Mountain of Qiang
The Mountain of Qiang is a project based on the photographer’s hometown, Wenchuan, focussing on the ethnic minority called Qiang. The view upon them has changed over the past thousand years. In ancient times, it was a general term for many different nomadic peoples in the West of China. Today, the Qiang means the Qiang nationality who live in the mountains of southwestern China. After the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, the Chinese government strongly reconstructed this area. The mountains, which traditionally blocked communication with the outside world, became the accelerator of urbanisation after a new road was build. Gradually the boundaries between modern life and local identity were blurred.
Photographer Lyu Geer started with photographing the Shibi, men who are both priests as custodians of tradition. They preside over ceremonies at marriages, funerals, festivals, when babies are named and new houses are built. They know the entire history of the Qiang and all their scriptures. Thats needed because the Qiang language has no written form. Also, he asked if they had any memories of the sea that in triassic times reached the Wenchuan area. He also went up the mountain to find traces left by the sea photographing snowmen, painted white stones, fake horses and pandas on his way. Lyu Geer describes: “This pointless behaviour seems to be like climbing trees to catch fish. But for me it was the start of the project turning more poetic, a the search for geographical and identity images.”.
The result is a contemporary series and book that revolve around the Shibi, Qiang’s beliefs, people and land combined with historic photographic materials. The earliest traced back to the Three Kingdoms Period, but also more recent material from western missionaries in the 20th century and Chinese anthropological photographer Zhuang Xueben. All together it paints a picture of a ethnic culture which constructed by different main cultures in histories, and quickly pushed into the templates of modern society after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.
Lyu Geer (b. 1995, Wenchuan, China)
Photographer Lyu Geer graduated from the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts and majoring in digital media art at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. His work focuses on the exploration of boundaries, identity and history. He has been awarded the Sony Young Photographer Program Award and New Talent Award and made the shortlist of the Lucie Foundation Emerging Artist scholarship and the Magnum Foundation Abigail Cohen Fellowship for documentary photography. His self-published “The Mountain of Qiang” was awarded the best Chinese photography book by China Photography magazine in 2018.
More information: www.lyugeer.com