Shanxi is the latest photobook by Chinese photographer Zhang Xiao and documents an ancient new-year ritual in rural China in what has been rather feudally described as a “fascinating portrait on Chinese peasant life today.”
The bright colours of the festival were captured on a Holga camera with an uncannily saturated effect, below and to the right are a selection of some of the pictures with Zhang Xiao’s foreword to his photobook.
“It appears that the participants have created a dramatic and otherworldly stage—dressing in stunning costumes and exquisitely painting their faces to represent the identities of Gods otherwise long forgotten.”
“I saw an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness that saturated the atmosphere and I tried not to disturb this beautiful dream state I found myself in. I truly hoped that I would never wake up.”
“They document old customs originating from pagan ritual practices. They are, in effect, a voodoo-esque form of totem worship.
“When I first witnessed the participants line up and then parade around the village, I repeatedly kept asking myself whether I had literally stepped into some sort of wonderland. The scenes I gazed at were far too bizarre and illusionary to be connected to events in the real world.”