Inner City | Cao Di

Text by Yuying Yang

  • Edited by Erik Bernhardsson
  • 64 pages
  • 4.5 x 6 inch
  • 60 photographs from the streets of inner Beijing
  • US Trade Paper
  • Published by Modes in Oct 01 2013
Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di

‘I like amusing atmosphere, not just the inner city but also people’s emotions.’ said by Cao Di for his one and only publication: Inner City.

As Walter Benjamin described, Flâneur– a figure of modern urban spectator–is an alienation of capitalistic city. He is no longer a human being but an invisible role hidden in crowd. The same as Cao’s situation, his works have never been shown in any exhibitions or galleries. It becomes a really personal observation to the city and life he lives in.

Cao’s pictures are like his collection. The targets in his pictures including passerby, advertisement leaflets, slogans on the wall etc, they are very normal images that we can see everyday. Cao said he find them very interesting so he took pictures of them. ‘I felt I occupied them, just like collecting stuff. They became mine when I press the shutter.’

As an amateur photographer, Cao described taking pictures as a way of seeking the answers. ‘ For example, I don’t know why I live so I shoot. After taking, I still have no idea but at least I got an excuse. Photography is my excuse for living.’

In his book Inner City, you can see a lot of ‘non-sense’ pictures. They don’t have a deep meaning or hint hide behind them. They are the most honest depiction of the city, almost bored the audiences because they are the view we see everyday through our eyes. But at the same time, the photographer does manage to add a fantasy in. Like the red shoes on a middle-aged woman’s feet, a sky-liked billboard behind a sitting man, a cartoon bag carried by an old man, they are quite amusing and even funky if we take a serious look on them. The reason why we ignore them is numb. We have seen too much in this city so we lost out sensitivity, and thanks for photographer like Cao Di, bring back his Flâneur’s observation for us.

Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di
Inner City by Cao Di

A Journey In Reverse Direction | Zhu Lanqing | Handmade Photography Book


As to Zhu Langqing’s work it was for me personally not only a well-balanced reflection on her hometown on how to use several expression forms of photography. While being a reflection on the past and the present it avoided self-centered sentimentalism and came across as a general statement of what photography can mean to all of us when we use it as a reflection on change in our visual environment. That this was a Chinese environment is at the same time essential because of her being Chinese and accidental as such relationships to home environments are general experiences.

—— Canida Hofer (Photographer, The Judge of 2014 Three Shadows Photography Award)

Just like most Chinese students, as soon as she finished high school, Zhu Lanqing left her hometown and started a new life journey somewhere away. During her days of studying and living in Beijing, hometown had become pieces of photos in her heart. Her thinking about hometown had made her know about Dongshan Island much better. Years later, she started to use camera to record the hometown she’s been thinking about day and night.

Book of Hometown is a hand-made book Zhu made in the past two years. Most photos in this books were shot in Ju’s hometown Dongshan Island, which is an unspoiled natural island located in the South West of Xiamen Island in Fujian Province.  Having a pile of random photos, Zhu still is not sure if her hometown has a definite connection with her. At last, she finished the editing and producing of the book in Taipei and started this hometown book in the order of ‘Eight Feet Gate’, ‘home’, ‘food, land and god’ and ‘sea’.

‘Unstoppable urban development let people get amnesia, because they often forget what used to exist here before. I can only catch up with its pace, with the camera to ‘fight’ the changes in my hometown.

As the beginning of the book, I was dressed in clothes from grandparents, which was found in their room. The effect seems to be a mutual process between my hometown and myself. What I have seen is what it wishes I could see. Shooting hometown seems like a journey in the reverse direction, leading to the dark memories and our original heart.’

Having graduated from Photojournalism course in the People’s University of China, Zhu is now doing Visual transformation in Institute of Practical Fine Art of Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University. Book of ? X ? was once nominated for Best Photographic Book awarded by French magazine Photo-Eyes in 2012 and once again, Ju has been selected as the winner of 2014 Three Shadows Photography Award.


A Journey In Reverse Direction | Photography by Zhu Lanqing


A Journey In Reverse Direction | Photography by Zhu Lanqing

A Journey In Reverse Direction | Photography by Zhu Lanqing
A Journey In Reverse Direction | Photography by Zhu Lanqing

To see more of Zhu’s work, please check:



Free Park | Same Studio | Self-Publishing

Photographer: Yuan Xiaopeng
  •         Title: Free Park
  •         Photographer: Yuan Xiaopeng
  •         Date of publication: winter, 2013
  •         Place of publication: Shanghai, China
  •         Dimensions: Newspaper “Free Park”: 52 pages, 297x420mm                                                           Instructions “Free Exhibition”: 16 pages, 140x210mm
  •         Publisher: Same Studio
  •         Website:
  •         Distributed by: Rosa Books, Jiluchang, and Banana Fish

As Claire Roberts mentioned in her latest book Photography and China: “many practitioners of ‘personal photography’ work for magazines and newspapers by day and create their own highly personal images at night, participating across the spectrum of a new, image-rich culture.” One of these photographers is Shanghai-based photographer Yuan Xiaopeng.

Yuan Xiaopeng (b. 1987) is a young photographer and illustrator who currently work for a weekly newspaper in Shanghai.  He is a member of Same Studio along with Beijing-based Wang Yijun. Same Studio is an artist collective that collects and share interesting books across the world.

Free Park is Yuan’s first solo-published piece, which is presented alongside a quirky exhibition that lasted only 2 hours. The body of work showcases the photography and illustrations of Yuan Xiaopeng during his stay in Shanghai from 2010 to 2013. Shot in Shanghai, Free Park is a pleasurable jaunt into the essence of the time and place, from in and around his rented flat to the local market. Wang Yijun, another member of Same Studio contributed to the typography and design. Each photograph in the newspaper is presented like a fragment of a larger picture, creating a fragmented yet still coherent perception of the photographer’s life in the metropolitan city. Free Park also includes a fun pamphlet, entitled “Free Exhibition,” about a fake installation exhibition.

Photographer’s statement:

The pictures were taken from 2010 to 2013, when I was moved to Shanghai to avoid the pressure from my family in Nanchang. I work here and spend most of my time wandering around the city and having sex with strangers in my rented house. Usually, I photograph the people I meet most frequently, in order to satisfy the image in my imagination. There is staged scene as well documenting the moment.

Free Park | Same Paper

Same Studio