In his powerful, wrenching work which immediately engages the viewer, world-renowned Chinese photographer Lu Guang confronts us with the compelling and terrifying truth about the astronomical human and environmental costs of China’s rapid industrialisation. From the twisted beauty of tortured landscapes to intimate portraits of ordinary folk suffering from the worst effects of industrial pollution, Lu’s beautifully composed and intensely coloured photographs weave a dramatic narrative.
While the world marvels at the spectacular rate of China’s economic growth, Lu’s photojournalism shines an uncomfortably bright spotlight on the plight of those at the lower rungs of Chinese society who often pay the cost of – and yet are ignored in – the country’s quest for advancement. Through his uncompromising lens which demands accountability, Lu has captured a plethora of stories, from peasant farmers who contracted HIV/AIDS after trading their blood for fertiliser, to the courageous fire-fighters who cleaned up the Dalian oil spill.
Born in Zhejiang in 1961, Lu has risen from his humble beginnings as a factory worker to become one of the most important and celebrated social documentary photographers of his generation. While capturing his spectacular, unprecedented images, Lu has maintained his independence, his investigative conscience and his integrity.
In the citation for Lu’s latest honour as the 2013 Prince Claus Laureate, he was lauded for his courage and sustained commitment to using photography to effect social change.
“By making visible what is usually covered up, Lu Guang opens a critical public space in which issues can be scrutinised and changed. Shared on the Internet and hotly debated on Chinese Twitter, his images have inspired people to act and forced authorities in China to take action on several occasions.”
2013 Prince Claus Awards Committee Report
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