Category Archives: Images

[Photography] Africans pursuing the Chinese Dream in Guangzhou

As every summer for the last 5 years, media comes again with a story of how Africans pursue their dream in the southern Megalopolis of Guangzhou.


Beginning in May, Liang Yingfei spent four months photographing Xiaobei Road in Guangzhou, which houses the largest African community in China. A series published in three parts, the first parts focuses on Serges de la Roche, who goes by the Chinese nickname Xiaolong (Little Dragon). A Togolese businessman who has lived in China for nearly 10 years, Xiaolong has been selling a wide variety of goods—from diesel generators to gadgets—to customers in Africa. Due to the increased difficulty in obtaining a Chinese visa, he was planning to return to Togo with his Chinese wife and their two Chinese-born children. The second part of Liang’s series looks at the effect of China’s recent economic slowdown on African businesspeople and students in Guangzhou, while the final part is a collection of portraits of Africans in Guangzhou

[Photography] Portraits of Africans in Guangzhou capture what may be the last days of China’s “Chocolate City”

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By Daniel Traub for Quartz Africa

On a pedestrian bridge in Guangzhou, on a summer evening in 2009, I came upon Wu Yong Fu—a man in his early thirties who worked on the bridge. Cradled in his left hand was a simple digital camera; his right hand held a placard made up of various photographic portraits laminated in plastic. As people walked by, he would sidle up and cajole them to have their picture taken. Wu emanated a kind of wistful charm that served him well for attracting customers.

This was not my first time on the bridge. In 2005, while photographing in Guangzhou, I came upon an area known as Xiaobeilu (Little North Road). Its crumbling old structures abutted modern glassy towers, while its narrow alleys bordered a vast, elevated highway system. The pedestrian bridge allowed safe passage over the arterial road that ran through the area. Wanting the highest perspective possible, I walked up the stairs onto the bridge. An immediate sense of openness, light and expanse could be felt. [Keep reading here]

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[Photography – Art] Little North Road – 小北路: exploring the social life and economies of a pedestrian bridge in Guangzhou

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Little North Road is a photographic exploration of the people and activities found on a pedestrian bridge in an ethnically diverse quarter of Guangzhou, China. Guangzhou has become a magnet for internal Chinese migrants, Middle Easterners and Africans who have come in search of opportunity and to trade in the goods produced in the Pearl River Delta – “the world’s factory.”

In recent years, the bridge, which arches over a major road bisecting the area, functioned as vibrant public space with dual roles. By day, people came to meet, linger, and gaze out onto the city, all the while suspended above the tumult below. At night, the bridge transformed into a frenetic outdoor market which brought foreigners and Chinese migrants together.

Since late 2014, however, following the Ebola crisis, the number of foreigners, particularly those from Africa, has decreased substantially, and due to police presence, entrepreneurial activity on the bridge has diminished. In certain respects, the life on the bridge, can be seen as an index, reflecting not only China’s changes but also Beijing’s shifting attitude towards these migrant populations and the informal economies that they engender.

The book will include Daniel Traub’s photographs taken on the bridge and surrounding area between 2010-2014. Additionally, it will incorporate a selection of images collected from two Chinese itinerant portrait photographers that Traub encountered on the bridge: Zeng Xian Fang and Wu Yong Fu. Equipped with digital cameras, these two photographers have made a living offering their services to passersby, primarily Africans, who wanted a souvenir of their time in Guangzhou. As they were producing the images solely as a means of survival, they would delete them at the end of each day. Since 2011, however, Traub has been collecting the images and creating an archive that now numbers over 20,000.

As China’s power and reach have grown, it has become a new center of gravity pulling people from remote lands. The bridge has been, in a sense, a symbolic gateway for this flow of people. Recent developments, however, call into question whether this cosmopolitanism is an inevitable part of China’s future or if it represents a moment that has already passed.

The book will contain approximately 150 color plates, and essays by Barbara Pollack, Roberto Castillo and Daniel Traub. The book will be edited by Robert Pledge and Daniel Traub and designed by Masumi Shibata. It is scheduled to be published by Kehrer Verlag in November 2015 in Europe and Spring 2016 in the US.

[Photography] How a little bridge in Guangzhou connects China & Africa

[Photography] The Bridge In Guangzhou, Where Africa and China Meet…

By Daniel Traub for The California Sunday Magazine

Photos by Zeng Xian Fang

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I lived in China for almost a decade. My mother is Chinese, so I grew up speaking Chinese. I also have a lot of family there, and I thought it would be a good place to start working as a photographer and filmmaker. I lived in Beijing and then in Shanghai, but I would occasionally go to Guangzhou for photo assignments.

One day in 2005, I came across this neighborhood in one of the older parts of the city. An immigrant neighborhood. There were lots of Uighurs, from northwest China, and also people from the Middle East. When I found myself on a pedestrian bridge, crossing over a big highway, I was surprised to see a lot of Africans.

In 2007, I had a parallel experience. I was working on a project in Rwanda and saw a Chinese construction crew in downtown Kigali, and I thought, What are they doing here?

I learned that China’s been investing heavily in Africa in exchange for oil and resource rights, and that by some estimates, there are now about a million Chinese people living in Africa. This community of Africans in Guangzhou could be seen as the flip side of that dynamic. People in Africa see China’s economic success, and they perceive China as a place of opportunity.

Whenever I’ve gone back to Guangzhou in recent years, I’ve returned to the bridge. It connects two different neighborhoods — one that’s a bit more developed, with high-rises and shopping malls, and one that’s more residential. But it also functions as kind of a public square suspended above the highway. People pass through, but they also hang out and chat, and at night it becomes an ad hoc market with people selling clothing, electronics — there’s even one guy selling snake oil, literally a snake-oil salesman.

In 2009, I was up there photographing when I noticed a Chinese man who had a point-and-shoot camera and was taking pictures of African immigrants and visitors. He would have them stand at the edge of the bridge with the high-rises in the background, kind of a snapshot of modern China. Then he would take the camera’s memory card out, put it into a portable printer, print out an 8-by-10 photograph, and charge one or two dollars.

I observed this guy for a while, and then I asked if I could take a look at some of his pictures. I was immediately struck by them. They had a lot of energy — and humor. Partly because he was using a pretty basic camera with a hard flash, the pictures had a kind of rawness to them. They were very direct.

His subjects seemed to have a sense of what they wanted. Guangzhou is in the Pearl River Delta, which is known as the workshop of the world. Traders come from developing regions, spend a few months there, buy the goods they want, and then ship them back to Africa and the Middle East. So the photos were a way for some of these traders to make souvenirs of their time there. They wanted to show the new China, with its tall buildings and modern architecture. Others liked to be photographed underneath the bridge, where there were bushes and trees for background. A lot of the women were trading in fabrics and textiles, so they would often wear the fabrics they had bought, which were colorful and beautiful. [KEEP READING HERE]