Completely self-taught, the French photographer Patrick Wack (born in 1979 in Cannes, France) has spent a decade in China working as a freelancer in the fields of portraiture, reportage, corporate and advertising photography. Overall his body of work has been bridging the distances between the people of China.
In his latest series Out West, Wack has travelled across the Xinjiang province. This large and sparsely populated area in north-western China is inhabited by the Muslim Uyghurs ethnic group. Wack explains: “from a geographical perspective, Xinjiang is located at the North of Tibet; from a political perspective, both provinces are subjected to Beijing’s violent imperialism.”
Wack reflects upon the challenging inter-cultural dialogue and fragile peace between the local ethnic group and the growing numerical presence of Han Chinese population. “Until recently, this province was mainly populated by Turkish-speaking Sunni Muslims, the Uyghurs; but also by the Kazakhs, Hui, Kirghiz, Mongols, Tadjiks amongst other nationalities coming from the steppes of Central Asia. Chinese Han – who came in successive waves of migration over the last four centuries – today represent nearly forty per cent of the local population.” To Wack, Xinjiang might be compared to “a French Algeria”, in which “second-class citizens are often despised by the rest of the country.”
While Wack’s Out West series to some extent echoes with the recent One Belt One Road project that hopes to revive the old China’s silk roads to carve out new export markets, his series goes beyond the mere political comment. Imbued with a romantic vision of the American Far-West, Wack’s photographs actually unveil his strong desire to explore a lesser-known and somewhat exotic region, which is at odds with Eastern China. Out West photographic series reifies his encounter between “his adopted country and his childhood passion for the myth of the American West. In both cases the discovery of the Far West - whether it is American or Chinese - puts desire to the test.”
More information: Patrick Wack website