Zhang Xiao

Ha 31 anni. Abita a Chengdu, nello Sichuan. E’ laureato in architettura e fa il fotografo. Zhang Xiao è un artista che utilizza la fotografia. I suoi soggetti hanno titoli semplici e diretti, come Coastline, un lavoro sulle coste cinesi e i suoi bagnanti. Lavoro che è stato esposto, oltre che nel suo paese, al Format Festival di Derby e in Francia.

Ho parlato con lui partendo appunto da questo progetto.

What is the concept of your project called Coastline? When did you start it?
I was born in a coastal city named YanTai, the coastline lasts about forty kilometers from our village to the sea. But it’s a pity that I seldom went to the seashore during my whole childhood, but there’s always a strong affection towards the sea remains in the bottom of my heart, I feel like to be close to the sea but sometimes scared. My friends and I once planed to have a trip along the coast when we were in the university, but it failed to come true due to some personal reasons.

The coastline is the frontier of China’s Reform and Opening up process, and also the impact area that first subjects to the external culture and the rapid economic development. We don’t know whether this impact is good or not. Maybe the development is so rapid that we are even not prepared , but we are also easy to get lost in such a process and forget where is my true homeland. Lacking of belonging is perhaps the inside collective problem of our contemporary Chinese.
To me, the coastline is a long trip in which I keep searching for the hometown of my heart.
I start this project from 07/2009 and I think I will complete it in this year.
Like many authors in the past, i.e. as Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York in the 30s, your Coastline project shows us how your country is fastly changing its landscape. It seems you love to take pictures to the people, so you often observe and analyze them.  Even if you are young, how do you think the Chinese people is changing? I’m thinking about your series called They as well.
Yes, but I both like to take pictures to the people and landscape. Because most of the landscape are created by human. The landscape is also a reflection of the social issues.

There are great changes every day in China since it began opening up 30 years ago. The cities are like big construction sites speeding their construction pace to catch up with the rest of the world. All of this appears particularly outstanding in China’s coastal areas. A multitude of countrymen leave their native place to go there. Urbanization drives continually accelerate growth while people’s spiritual life stay.

About They, these photos were taken in Chongqing city, Southwest China. I think They significance is same as Coastline, only different with geographical. Because that time I must work in Chongqing city.

Working on Coastline, you have collected 3 series with 36 pictures for each series. Why?
This is no intention to. Just because my website function is not perfect. If I placed 108 photos into one column, this will be difficult to go to next page or preview page, so I depart them to three series for exhibit on the web. Actually they all belong to one series of Coastline. I would re-organize this series later when my site improvements.

What is the goal of the Coastline project?
First at geographical level, I want to travel every city of the Chinese coastline. This will be a comprehensive observation of the Chinese coastline. Now I have completed most of them. Another at the spiritual level. In this process, I have been self-discovery and improve self.

Who are the photographers and artists who inspire your work?
Diane Arbus, Boris Mikhailov, Alec Soth, Nadav Kander, and so on.

All images are ©Zhang Xiao



  1. Roberto Tartaglione · April 9, 2012

    Grazie per questa intervista, mi ha aiutato a conoscere meglio la personalità di questo autore – su cui sto lavorando per una presentazione – e ne ho conosciuto anche uno nuovo: Boris Mikhailov.

    Hai un blog molto interessante che non mancherò di seguire.
    A proposito, non trovo il tasto per il feed RSS…

    Cordialissimi saluti
    Roberto Tartaglione

  2. Eliseo Barbàra · April 10, 2012

    Ciao Roberto, grazie per aver letto l’intervista. Sto lavorando con Zhang Xiao in questo periodo. Posso chiederti di che presentazione si tratta?
    Il tasto RSS si trova in homepage, ma in questa pagina, in fondo nella colonna di destra.

  3. Roberto Tartaglione · April 10, 2012

    Grazie Eliseo, ho trovato il tasto che cercavo; si tratta di alcuni incontri organizzati con un gruppo di escursionismo e dovrei parlare di una diversa sensibilità nel raccontare il mondo, con gli esempi di alcuni fotografi. Il lavoro di Zhang Xiao, mi sembra esemplare. Naturalmente fornirò tutti i crediti, anche del tuo blog per ulteriori approfondimenti. Se può interessarti posso inviarti il programma degli incontri.

    Buona giornata.

  4. Eliseo Barbàra · April 10, 2012

    interessante. grazie, perch no!?

  5. Fabiano Busdraghi · June 25, 2012

    Ciao Roberto e Barbàra, Xhang Xiao oltre ad essere un fotografo che stimo moltissimo è anche un mio caro amico. Se vi interessa potete leggere un paio di articoli su di lui su CO-mag: http://cameraobscura.busdraghi.net/it/2011/coastline-zhang-xiao/ http://cameraobscura.busdraghi.net/2010/zhang-xiao/ a presto Fab

  6. Pingback: Zhang Xiao and They | Not Only Photography

Comments are closed.