Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China by Lukas Birk,
published by Glitterati Incorporated, http://glitteratiincorporated.com
|Photographer: Lukas Birk|
Nostalgia is an interesting thing. The dictionary defines nostalgia as 'a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past'. Recently I was given the opportunity to read and view this wonderful book of photographs called Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China, published by Glitterati Incorporated, http://glitteratiincorporated.com . It's an interesting book that looks at steadily changing China and how the author views the changing country through the lens of nostalgia.
|Sanlitun Soho, Beijing, 2009|
|Musing over Tiananmen, Beijing, 2010|
|View on the Bund, Shanghai, 2008|
I love this idea that Birk has of using the medium of the expired Polaroid film because as I look at each photograph, my eyes first think they are seeing a retro image. Then my mind switches over to remember that these photos were taken from 2008 to 2010 on film that expired in 1991. We are given the chance to see rapidly changing China through a lens of nostalgia brought on by the effects of the aged film.
|Performance Artist, Pingyao, 2008|
Some photos have defects around the edges that look like teeth marks and some look as if sunlight has burned into them at points. The defects from the aged film come in from the edges but don't spoil the images at all. There is a beautifully haunting quality. It's as if the defects are seeping into the center of each image and after a certain amount of time the images will just magically disappear. The old is giving way to the new daily in China and the medium that Birk chose to convey this is perfect.
|Trash Collector Family, Pingyao, 2008|
|Mao tattoo, Beijing, 2008|
I found Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China to be a moving book because I love stories told through photography. The photographs do the talking as there is only text in the short foreword and introduction. This is a large book and we are given a detailed look at each image. My eyes traveled around and into each photograph and saw something more each time.
This is an excellent book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a celebration of life and nostalgia and documents how change happens right in front of us every day.
Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China can be purchased here.
*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.