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Zhou Qiang: Surviving

Born in Chengdu, China.


In some way, even without us noticing or knowing, our lives in general are very trivial. The state of surviving – or even trying to – after the death of another is a crossing journey of its own. Photographer Zhou Qiang portrays life, death and everything in between. After quitting school as a 12-year, Zhou Qiang was first guided by, and later became himself, a Taoist priest. Later in life, he became a photographer processing and exploring the dead crossing over into the afterlife. The photographic project Surviving is equally spine-chilling, heart-warming and paramount. It is a revealing personal passage into a surviving territory around the prosperous everlasting Yangtze River. 

Zhou Qiang is most known for his photographic pieces of intimate portraits and thrilling observations of rural life. The photographic series Surviving tells a story about connections between life and desire, and how we as humans seek meaning in the encounter in our every day life. Surviving takes the viewer through wild-growing grass in-between stones and concrete, deserted buildings, collapsed caves and rivers running through rural landscapes. Zhou Qiang’s encounters of desire and life in the rural landscape reveals as documentation and additionally becomes his personal spontaneous reflections. Through photographs of dead mammals lying on the river bed, fishes being freed by believers upstream, hungry scouting ostriches, the youth dressed in ancient clothing, male swimmers skinny-dipping, vases stranded in the desert and a cosplayer at a high-speed rail construction site, his photographs showcase a broader understanding of a mundane yet still abstract hidden society around the river. The photographic series untangle Zhou Qiang lingering and wandering along the Yangtze River, where he draw parallel to his youth, the current state of Chinese society, how everything is weaved together and intwined in the mortal world we live in today.

Zhou Qiang began his photographic practice in 2010, and has done documentary works in China ever since. Zhou Qiang’s works have been exhibited in China and abroad including Paris, New York, Japan and Berlin, and has received several prestigious awards such as Lucie International Photography Award, Three Shadows Photography Award, Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award, a nomination by Magnum Foundation, among others.

Click here to follow Zhou Qiang on Instagram.

Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt Andersen