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Book Review by Jo Lusby (City Weekend)
Summing up social changes in China over the last 10 years is something frequently attempted, but seldom executed well. In his recently published chronicle of society and people in China, photographer Mark Leong has succeeded in producing the appealing and emotive volume Camera Obscura, documenting a wide range of his works.
Photojournalist Leong's images are to an extent picturesque, but there is also a good measure of hard-hitting shots, and the main feel of the book is that of photojournalism rather than shots intended for the coffee table. Following the emergence of what pundits like to call "New China", the black and white images of Camera Obscura constitute a no-holds-barred, warts-and-all examination of a society as it encounters the challenges of change.
Subjects include drug takers in Beijing and Lanzhou, and mine collapses in Guangxi. Lighter moments peek a public bathroom, a railway carriage, and a wedding photography studio.
In the foreword by poet Yang Lian, he describes the experience of a person who is both an insider and outsider in a society. Reminiscences by author and China-watcher Peter Hessler chart time spent working with Leong on stories, telling a couple of the tales behind the pictures.
In terms of the quality of the photographs, these are beautiful, sometimes disturbing, and evocative images, and each page tells a very different story.
- Book Talk By Lijia Zhang: "Lotus" & China's underground sex industry
- Debate: East and West Family Education
- Cross-culture Discussion: Chinese Education
- Talk: China's Rural-Urban Migrant Workers
- Talk: Medical System in China
- Lecture: Chinese Population
- Talk: China's Current Examination System
- Talk: Gays & Lesbians in Beijing