ChinaFile Presents: Africa in China
NEW YORK, April 11, 2016 — For his new book Little North Road, photographer Daniel Traub collected images taken by two Chinese photographers who made a living taking pictures for African migrants on a pedestrian bridge in Guangzhou, China. Traub presents a selection of images from the project, followed by a conversation with Robert Pledge, the book's co-editor, C. Jama Adams, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and David M. Barreda, visuals editor at ChinaFile. (1 hr., 34 min.)
As China’s power and reach have grown, it has become a new center of gravity pulling people from remote lands. The city of Guangzhou in southern China has become a magnet for Africans, among others, who have come in search of opportunity and to trade in the goods produced in the Pearl River Delta.
Since 2009, New York-based photographer and filmmaker Daniel Traub has been exploring the people and activities on a pedestrian bridge at the heart of Guangzhou for a project he calls "Little North Road." At the core of the project is an archive of images collected from two Chinese itinerant portrait photographers, Wu Yong Fu and Zeng Xian Fang. Equipped with digital cameras, they have made a living making portraits for Africans who want mementos of their time in China. Traub’s photographs on the bridge and in its immediate vicinity explore the broader dynamics of the area and provide a context through which to see these portraits.
To mark the publication of the book Little North Road in the United States, Traub will present a selection of images from the project and will be joined in conversation with Robert Pledge, the co-editor of the book, Associate Professor C. Jama Adams of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and David M. Barreda, Visuals Editor at ChinaFile. The discussion will address some of the questions the book gives rise to, such as: Are the subjects imposing on the image-makers a specific African portrait tradition? Or do the images reveal more about the personalities and aesthetics of the two photographers? In this era of the "selfie," why are individuals choosing to stop and pose for a portrait?
Come see these portraits that Pledge describes as "images that express the openness, self-confidence, and optimism of a little-acknowledged group that chose to overcome any measure of cultural prejudice it would encounter and immerse itself in another ancient culture with similarly deeply rooted rural and community-driven traditions."