Photography Feature – Desert of the Real 
June 01, 2012
Through faded palettes and smooth surfaces slashed by the intimation of a merging border, Zhang Jin's photographs of China's Hexi Corridor allude to ideologically driven mythologies of the past.

It is the meeting of incongruous consciousnesses which reveals how boundaries are manufactured. The work of Chengdu-based photographer Zhang Jin examines the mapping of modern identities through historical points of commercial and cultural contact. His interest in the Silk Road began with a trip from the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang to Wuwei City in Northwestern China. Just a few years after his first photography exhibition in New York, Zhang traveled through the eastern stretches of the Hexi Corridor between 2009 to 2010. Propelled by a longtime fascination with dynastic history, Zhang sought to bring back remnants of an ancient maelstrom on the high horizons of desert oases.

At a numbing pace, modern communications, urban-rural migrations and global capitalism are serving to erode concepts of geographical boundaries. Zhang says the Northern Silk Road represented the introduction of spirituality in China’s first encounters with Buddhism.

Great waves of trade and diplomacy rode across the desert scapes of modern-day Gansu which contributed to a burst of economic activity that lasted over several dynasties. Such evocations now lay concealed, unmoored from modern memory. “The Silk Road was the path on which ancient Chinese Buddhism arrived and set into motion foreign exchange, as well as the integration of various faiths. In contrast, a similar sequence of changes has made individuals feel less empowered today," said Zhang.

Text by Diana Bates
June 01,2012

more photos are right here: Photography Feature – Desert of the Real

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