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Agence VU - Yang Yankang
Yang Yankang

Born in 1954 in the city of Anshun in Guizhou, China.

Yang Yankang joined the distribution department of Inphoto magazine in Shenzhen in 1984. However, it was not until 1985 that he began his adventures in photography. Since then, his work has been exhibited in Asia and Germany , and has often been acknowledged for its questioning of religion. In 2001 he won first prize at the Yiping de Shandong International Festival and joined Agence VU the same year. In 2009 he photographed a story about Buddhism in Tibet.

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Buddhism in Tibet (2009)

"The Strong Power of Faith" Despite unceasing oppression, indoctrination and spying, the photographs taken by Yang Yankang show buddhism is still alive in Tibet. For years now, religious communities organize their religious activities independently. Thanks to the serious political application of free religion practices, everybody shows respect to another and the daily life remains harmounious. The black and white pictures of Yang Yankang in Tibet translate the power of faith. Buddhism is seen as incarnation of a feasible peace in Tibet. Pictures taken in the Tibetan areas of Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai.

Catholic in the villages of Shaanxi Province, China (2001)

In the Shaanxi province Yang Yankang went to meet the Catholics of China. In this central region many consider the cradle of Chinese civilization, the discovery of these particularly faithful individuals is astonishing. The capital Xi’an has long been at the center of many former dynasties. Today, the field work and daily life find themselves atuned to Christian rituals. Processions across the countryside that ask for God’s aid in harvesting, baptisms, and funerals, show that these Chinese live their faith with fervor.


The Poor In Spirit

Catholicism in China has had a history of over seven hundred years. Especially since the founding of New China, it has experienced many ups and downs, but its adherents have never disappeared. Especially in some out-of-the-way rural areas, Catholicism represents important spiritual sustenance for many, and penetrates all aspects of daily life.
Yang Yankang spent ten years in the Shaanxi countryside creating his exquisite Set of works documenting Chinese rural Catholics, The Poor in Spirit. With empathy and humour, he depicts churches and solemn ceremonies rising like apparitions in the remotest countryside; a wall calendar of celebrity photographs written over with a musical score, played by a group of women; dugouts and earth houses used for preaching and ministry; a rural family assembling a Christ figure; the pious faces of children singing; processions through the wheat fields of mourners in traditional Chinese funeral dress, carrying the coffin or shouldering a cross; a priest in ceremonial attire conducting mass for the sick in a maize field, and so on.
Documentary photography practice in China started, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a focus on people marginalized by the mainstream (psychiatric patients, homosexuals, transgender people, Catholics, free artists, etc.), and on vulnerable groups deliberately neglected by the powerful elites. These images by Yang Yankang demonstrate a courage in facing Chinese social reality – the images themselves have a visual intensity, and the photographer expresses compassion through them.

Publisher: Unicorn (2019)
168 pages
Size: 30.5 x 30.5 cm  


    2007 - Prize of Creation of the 1st Sha Fei Photography Award

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