Jiang Yanmei, Chen Wenjun.EN NING
Our Price: $10.00
Published: Big Head Photo (2013)
Category: Limited edition photo book
Details: Softcover, 21 colour plates, 28 pages, 190 x 190 mm
Languages: English & simplified Chinese
Limited Edition of 1000 copies
Early spring in Guangzhou brings the bougainvillea into fresh bloom. Along the streets of the old town knotted banyan trees twist their heads and murmur above the bustle of jumbled street markets. As with so many cities in China however old Guangzhou is under increasing pressure. Today progress is measured in new office buildings and apartment blocks and the shaded streets, with their tall shops houses and unhurried street life occupy prime downtown real estate. This self-published photo book captures the character of life of En Ning Road, in the heart of Guangzhou’s old town before a proposed redevelopment project changes it for good.
En Ning Road lies to the south of Liwan district, formerly known as “Xiguan”, or West Gate, and runs for just over a kilometer between Baohua Street and the new pedestrian zone of Shangxiajiu, to the east. Many of the buildings here date from the 1930s when Enning was the focus for a bustling community of modestly well-to-do traders and artisans, particularly metal workers, who were well known throughout the city for their brass, bronze and copper wares.
Ehoes from En Ning’s old life persist however. One image from the book shows Mr Su, who sits in front of his shop in one of street’s tall arcades. Su Shao Wei learned copper working as a teen and today, past 60, still works from the same street-side space which doubles as a workshop and showroom. Trade has dropped off in recent years, he admits, and most of his customers are now tourists looking for mementos. He is worried what will happen to his shop when redevelopment finally takes place.
In another photo a young pupil is put through his exercises by Mr. Huang at a Cantonese opera studio. En Ning is home to the famous Yue Opera Company. At one time it was one of several opera companies to be found here yet today it is the last of its kind and is based at the top of En Ning at the Behe Huiguan Hall, where it was founded in the late 1800s.
Like his father before him, Huang Bing Jie learned Yue opera as a child and is proud to pass on his knowledge but says he misses the old days when the sounds of rehearsals and performances up and down the nearby streets and in the teahouses provided the everyday soundtrack to life on En Ning Road.
En Ning is published by Big Head Photo as a limited edition of 1000 copies.
Big Head Photo was set up in 2012 in Guangzhou by the photographers Jiang Yanmei and Chen Wenjun and the graphic designer Ming Zhuwei. So far it has published three books, all of which focus on the local communities in Guangzhou.
In 2012 Big Head Photo participated in the Caochangdi Photo Spring festival in Beijing and the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Japan. In November 2012 they conducted the first Big Head Photo Workshop at the Times Museum Community Art Festival in Guangzhou.