China's "Purest Photographer" (1)

I came across some breathtaking photos showing Catholic worshippers in China through a link from a priest friend's website. I did some research and found that the photos are the works of an amazing Chinese photographer called Lu Nan. Below is some information I have gathered about him.

Lu Nan (1962- ) is one of China’s most legendary photographers. His early work “Adding One Metre to the Nameless Hill” has been regarded one of the most classic performance arts images in China’s contemporary art. Lu is the only contemporary Chinese photographer to have featured in the American magazine Aperture. Over the years he has declined countless invitations to photographic exhibitions, insisting that “good work is accomplished in silence”. His idiosyncrasy earned him the title of China’s “purest photographer”.

Lu Nan produced only three bodies of work over a fifteen-year period between 1989 and 2004, namely, “The Forgotten People: The State of Chinese Psychiatric Wards” (1989-90), “On the Road: The Catholic Church in China” (1992-96) and “The Four Seasons: The Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants” (1996-2004).

Lu spent eight years in Tibet for the the series “The Four Seasons: The Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants”. Unlikely most other series showing the beautiful landscape of Tibet, the series depicts the daily lives of the Tibetan peasants as the seasons evolve. According to Lu, the 109 black and white photos of were painstakingly selected from over 126,000 negatives from 3,500 rolls of films. Once, Lu returned to China with two suitcases of films. Only a few were photos were selected. The rest, even those showing the rarest beautiful scenery, were abandoned.

During the eight-year period, Lu spent at least half of the time living in Tibet, the longest stay stretching nine months. He relied on a map to select photo shooting spots, calculating the time it would take for him to walk to a village by using the legend. Almost every afternoon when he was in Tibet, this photographer with “no religious belief, only conviction”, as Lu described himself, would brave the sandstorm and commute between his lodging and the villages at 4,000 metres above sea level. “I lived, worked and learned like an ascetic,” Lu said. “I am convinced that good work is accomplished in silence.”

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