Qingdao Beach | Katharina Hesse

by Liz on April 28, 2013

in Art & Design

About a year ago, I was immensely lucky to interview photographer Katharina Hesse for AsianTalks, and speak to her in length of her work with publications like TIME and Newsweek. Her projects have taken her to Bangkok, around Asia, and recently to China’s northeast where she has photographed North Korean refugees who are fleeing the DPRK.

For those of you in New York curious to learn more about Hesse’s work, there is a special exhibit at the Open Society Institute that will be on view through December 13, 2013. Hesse, along with several other globally situated photojournalists will be featured as part of the Moving Walls exhibit, with works addressing a “variety of social justice and human rights issues.”

I’ve always been a huge fan of Hesse’s work, because even beyond weighty subject matter she fluidly captures the essence of a place, and particularly China. These black-and-white photographs of an urban beach in Qingdao, Shandong province, were taken in August 2010, which I imagine is the height of some kind of beach season in China. To me, they exemplify what Hesse does best.

Hesse never subtracts from what’s already there, but neither does she embellish her subjects. For the photographer and her lens, subjects, light and composition are all sufficiently captivating, an observation that humbles a more blase viewer into renewed appreciation.

It’s been argued in some circles Chinese contemporary art is defining China and inflecting Chinese reality as much as it is being affected by it.

Here — I’d argue Hesse’s photography does the same for a quotidian beach in Eastern China.

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