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'The project "Freezing Land" focuses on shrinking cities in the Northeast China and the young people living in these cities. I grew up in southern China, where the climate is mild, which makes me curious and yearning for the ice and snow in the North. Xiao Hong （蕭紅） wrote a novel about the Northeast China, "Hulan River Biography" （呼蘭河傳）, which fascinated me. Over the years, I have been shocked by the scenes described in this book.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the industry in the Northeast developed rapidly, and the Northeast became the richest place in China. But starting in 2000, the former eldest son of the Republic began to face some economic recession as well as other problems. The population began to flow out, and the originally rich cities began to shrink.
From 2016, I had the opportunity to go to the local area to do fieldwork, so I picked up my 810 camera and flew to this cold area that I dream of. During the winter in the Northeast, while it is minus 30 degrees Celsius, it is difficult to meet people on the streets. So I used the social software 'Kuaishou' (快手) to invite young people who are willing to share their stories for the shootings. These young people need to face the choice: either go to the big cities to seek opportunities, or stay home and accept their fate.'
—— Chen Ronghui(陳榮輝)
Chen Ronghui(b.1989) is a Chinese photographer and storyteller based in Shanghai, whose work focus on China’s urbanization in long term projects. He has devoted himself to the study the relationship between China’s urbanization and individual’s experiences. Known for his specific interest in these social issues, he had published his first collection of photographs named Chen Ronghui, which is one of the book among China’s Contemporary Photography Catalog. His projects have brought him many awards, including World Press Photo prize, Three Shadows Photography Award & AlPA special prize and Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award. Outside of his own professional practice, Chen also acts as the head of the visual department in Sixth Tone, which is a Shanghai local English-language digital publication.
Freezing Land╱空城計｜Chen Ronghui ╱陳榮輝｜24 cm x 31 cm ｜70 color plates｜Softcover｜Published by Jiazazhi Press｜Sep 2020