Liu Zheng 刘铮 (born in 1969 in Wuqiang, Hebei province) started his career in the 1990s as a photojournalist for the Workers’ Daily, one of China’s most widely distributed newspapers. As a committed photojournalist, he realized that Chinese people remained anonymous to the outside world in spite of their openness to the camera. This fact prompted him to initiate his series The Chinese.
Starting from the early 1994, Liu travelled extensively through the People’s Republic and took photographs of people from every region and social stratum, producing eventually over 10,000 photographs. His aim was to portray Chinese society through an all-encompassing view, ranging from the wealthy to people living on the margins by alternating between choreographed and candid images. Historically Liu’s moment was a time of great social and cultural change during which China’s leader, Deng Xiaoping, had opened up the country and hoped to boost economy. The result is a portrait of a society wrestling with the contradictions between traditional culture and modernization.
For Liu Zheng, The Chinese series offered a substantial re-examination of the Chinese people, uncensored and without political agenda. As he explained: “In the process of photographing, I have come to understand many abstract concepts such as truth and falsehood, emptiness and reality, and gradually the separation of these concepts have lost meaning for me. To me, The Chinese started from an attempt to record reality, but ended in a singular vision.”
• Liu Zheng’s works on Yossi Milo Gallery and Blindspot Gallery
• "Visual Encyclopedia of the People’s Republic: Liu Zheng’s monumental photo atlas The Chinese," ArtMag by Deutsche Bank.