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Song Chao: The Landscape and Community of a Coal-mine

Beijing, China


We always ignore some usual things just hidden under the ground. Behind the dense curtain of the fog we hope to find life filled with sunlight and happiness, but in reality there might death, gloominess and destruction. Chinese photographer Song Chao operates in these scenic viewings of a coalmine community as an explorer using symbolism and storytelling.

Migrant workers in the coalmine are a special social group in China. The coalmine is a place where identity, time and space are turned up side down. The workers go to the countryside to work when they are busy, they go to the city to work when they are not busy – and the migrant workers in the coalmine move silently at the bottom of society. Going from dark alleys and neighbourhoods in the city life to the even darker corners of the mines.

Song Chao illustrates through these two photograph series the wonderful journey and gorgeous landscape surrounding the coalmine. As a viewer you go closer through the dense fog where the mine slowly emerges. The other series focuses on the gloomy existing identities of the workers. Pictured is a drummer, postman, teacher etc. in the dark mysterious setting of the coal-mine. These personalities strike as examples on how the coal-mine community affects, involve and contradicts everyone. The two series becomes an image on how we can find life and death in even the darkest corners of the world.

Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt Andersen