Yu Haibo

Recently came across this cool photographer who’s done some photographic series on Shenzhen, such as looking at migrant workers and the culture around Dafen Painting Village.

Go check it out!

There’s also a cool article about some of his photos here too

I’m going to try to make an effort to find more Chinese professional photographers, let’s hope I can find websites that are not only in Chinese.

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sarah li cain-mumbled jumbles-change

Shenzhen isn’t noted for a city of culture, history, or well, touristy destinations.  Hanging out with this blogger really changed my perspectives of this place and its citizens.  The more I think about it, the more I realize, Shenzhen’s history is about its constant changing settings. You are constantly seeing buildings revamped, torn down, and made way for new ones. In the last three years, I have seen more changes than I’ve seen in Canada in 10.  It’s amazing how quick buildings are torn down or built, and you have to wonder if anything is permanent, buildings or people. I have seen numerous migrant workers and foreigners that it’s hard to keep track who is coming or going.  Then again, this is the first place I’ve stayed overseas for longer than a year so I am able to see these changes.

Taking photos is an interesting way to look back on the developments of this place.  I can see though, why Shenzhen is overwhelming at times:  constant shiny new buildings, mass amounts people coming and going throughout the city and dealing with constant change (on numerous levels).  I find this place very overwhelming too. But the only places I have found comfort is wandering around the older areas where the buildings are crumbling, but people still live there, or morning markets where people have a sense of belonging and know what to do or where to go. I wonder do all of Shenzhen’s people care about the fact that the landscape of this place is constantly changing, or not because they are all temporary residents anyway?  Do I fall into this category?

I will admit, I have a pile of things I want to start (such as planting my own garden, freezing meals for weekly meal planning, etc.) but I am waiting until I go back “home”, which makes me feel like a migrant worker (well, basically I am) even though I’ve established some roots here.  I often question if my curosity for documenting and thinking about change here connects me to Shenzhen, as we’re both in a sense “migrant”.

I’m thinking about incorporating some of these thoughts as part of my artist statement I’m planning in writing soon, but I’m still going to have to mull this over.

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Why I like Shenzhen

sarah li cain-mumbed jumbles-why I like Shenzhen

I never thought I would really write a post like this. But here I am, three years later, blogging about a place I loathed for a little while.  I think it was part of homesick-ness that I hated it, or dealing with the sheer amount of people that live in this city. Nevertheless, I find that my routines around the city are some of the things that truly make me happy these days. Even though I don’t particularly like my job, at least I’ve come to terms with Shenzhen.

Here are some of the reasons I like it here:

The ‘locals’ – I hesitate to call a lot of them locals simply because most of them are migrant workers. Granted, there a LOT of them who are “new money” and as a result of major consumerism hitting China, feel a sense of entitlement at being treated better because they have a lot of money.  However, for every snobby person out there, there are two or three more nice people in their place. I’ve met some really nice locals who take the time to say hello, and through conversing with them (whether I am a customer or they are just strangers off the street)  I am privileged to get a glimpse into their lives. Examples include a nice barber that cuts my husband’s hair who always has a smile on his face and is never stressed, local electronics vendor that lets me know which products are quality and which ones will rip you off, my regular merchant at the local wet market, and the nice manager at our local breakfast eatery.

Cool old buildings – ok, maybe it is because I am a foreigner here, but I love old architecture, and for lack of a better term, a more “authentic” way of life. Shenzhen is a very hectic place, and I normally find myself incredibly annoyed at the malls and busy roads.  Step into an old ‘village’ behind most high rises, and you’ll find old concrete buildings, with people who are kind, considerate, and don’t give a damn about how fast they go.  If I am out early in the mornings, I find that sometimes I am by myself, which is glorious.

Convenience – ok, getting from one part of the city to another sucks, but it is getting easier. What I mean is having five supermarkets at my disposal, calling for delivery from almost any store (if I smoked and wanted a pack of cigarettes from the convenience store downstairs, I just call and someone comes to my apartment!) and the ability to walk to most places I need to.

Here’s hoping to another good year in Shenzhen.

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