Archive for April 24th, 2011
No post yesterday as I was on a full day trip with some colleagues to the ancient city of XiTang in ZheJiang province here in China. This is the third of the six ancient cities that exist in this region of China, that I have visited. As I prepare to write a photo book about ChangZhou, I am finding it instructive to pay attention to the celebrated history of China that is found in neighbouring areas in order to get a better sense of ChangZhou which has small fragments of that past embedded, little bits and pieces of ancient times that hint at the past of this city, critical elements that need to be understood. The present is built on the foundations of the past, foundations which don’t disappear from the collective unconscious of any culture or society.
I am looking forward to the task which is rather enormous as I must choose from an overwhelming collection of photos. The only way I can navigate through the photos is to find the key elements for the story I am to tell and block in the images which allow that story to emerge. The book will not be a history book, it is going to be about the city as it exists today as seen through my eyes and understood through my various filters. But, the image I have of the city is also coloured by my expectations and my interests in culture and history. I am aware that this story yet to be written will be a unique story, more about the photographer and writer than it will be about the city itself.
Having this in mind, I am reminded that in trying to understand and develop a fuller awareness of who I am, I am also required to sift through the remembered images, the history of my family through at least a few generations and trying to separate the wealth of images that flood in daily to find those that resonate, those that are charged with affect. Of course, this is the work of this blog site.
And now, I turn to the photo. The old timbers and stones, many of which are centuries old, serve as a base from which new life finds a perch. The red lanterns symbolize the vitality of man, the libido of life. The lavender flowers represent the fragile aspect of life as well as the promise of new life which will emerge from fertilization, the union of the masculine and feminine. Yet, the artifacts of the past remind that the new will also become old, that the new will become part of a bigger history, adding to the expanse of what we can only call “archetype.”