Qiang and China, Made and Unmade

PhotographerMenglan Chen
PrizeBronze in Book (self-published) 摄影画册类(已出版 / Documentary 纪实
Entry Description

On May 12th, 2008, an earthquake measuring at 8.0 Ms hit the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, situated between the Tibetan Plateau and the eastward lowland region in Southwestern China. Forty miles from the epicenter, the entire Radish Village, where houses were built with yellow mud, was wiped to the ground. Around 30 out of one thousand villagers, all ethnically Qiang, were killed. With an anthropological approach, the artist looks at the tension between Qiang people's daily experiences and grand cultural narratives, and how this tension is embodied in changing religious, agricultural, and constructional practices during the post-earthquake reconstruction. Radish Village is a microcosm where one can see the negotiation between local cultural fluidity and imposed cultural hegemony. The making of a “Qiang” ethnic minority stands upon the unmaking of deposited Qiang customs and memories. The making of China, similarly, is at the expense of the unmaking of many possible Chinas. This project aims to capture a glimpse into China’s modernization development and the poetic irony living under in this process. 2008年的汶川地震中,位于阿坝羌族自治州的萝卜寨被夷为平地。灾后重 建的过程,既是对土地和家园的修补,也是对“羌”这个民族身份的重新叙 述。作为一个视觉民族志,这个作品展现了日常生活中的羌族个体和宏大 叙述中的羌族身份之间的对话。对“羌族”这一民族身份的构建,有时意味 着自然生长流传的羌人习俗的消亡。如果“羌”本身意味着一个处于边缘、 不断流动的民族,那么在现代化的过程中定义“羌”,既是对这一文化内核 最大的扭曲。