Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Shanghai. Photo by Dan Eckstein
I've got my sights set on China right now as I watch the Olympics every night. I can't help but marvel at the venues, especially the aquatic center, otherwise known as the water cube . This building is incredible, costing over $200 mil to build. I've been searching around looking for more of a visual context to the Olympic venues and the images on television. Documentary and fine arts photographer Dan Eckstein has a photographic essay on contemporary China that really fleshes things out. Eckstein spent eight weeks there in 2006 documenting the changes happening throughout the vast country, from the cities to the rural villages. His site is easy to navigate, allowing you to follow his journey by region, timeline, or topics. In addition to his pictures, Eckstein writes short descriptions about many of photo sections, like this excerpt about bang bang workers:
Many of these migrant workers end up as part of what locals call the “Bang Bang Army”. This 100,000 plus army of laborers are identified by the bamboo poles (or bang bang in Chinese) that they use to carry heavy loads around the city. Due to the hilly topography of Chongqing, the bicycles used to transport goods in other Chinese cities have been abandoned and manual labor used instead. Bang bang workers are hired by everyone from business owners to tourists to move all sorts of goods from ships at the port into town or around the city. For their efforts a bang bang man will make an average of 20 Yuan ($2.50) for working a 12 hour day.
Bang Bang worker in Chongqing, Western China. Photo by Dan Eckstein