China - A day in the life sets out to explore often under-exposed realities in the lives of the People's Republic of China.
Shot over four years (2011 to 2015) in all four corners of the global powerhouse, the subject matter edges towards portraits of the under privileged and ethnic minority, those whom are not on traditional tourist routes, with the photographer often taking inspiration from the ideology of China's struggle through darker times and on to the global stage. From Beijing to Kashgar, Shanghai to Shangri-La, China - A day in the life explores often sobering realities behind China's global rise to fame, interacting with citizens whose ancestors helped galvanize a modern China, yet who rarely travel further than the borders of their home province.
As the photographer explains, this is not an expose of shock and awe, rather a celebration of the DNA that propelled China through the fog of the late twentieth century...
"I wanted to focus on an aspect of photography in China which all photographers and tourists are exposed to, yet is often overlooked and misunderstood due to the nature of what we consider to be communism; what does it mean to be a Chinese citizen living outside the modern cities and under the radar of this global powerhouse? Shooting in China for this project was primarily about looking through the eyes of the less economically privileged who makeup a vast majority of the People of the Republic. I aimed to navigate both cities and some of China's most isolated locales, with the intent of meeting the very DNA that built this grand nation. Yet looking through their eyes and being present through their struggle, because it is a struggle, made me question many aspects of the project; It turns your world upside down, there is no going back to your Starbucks or Element Fresh, it changes you at a fundamental level. I guess to understand just a few of the intricacies of this dynamic culture helps us as 'outsiders' to understand the Chinese culture on a different level, and in turn can act as a gateway for allowance, understanding, acceptance and change. I worked with both civilians and the municipal government on projects that allowed me access to areas potentially out of reach to the average tourist, and there were times I was unsure what the overall Chinese reaction would be; how do they see themselves, how do they want to be portrayed? Outside China and the western media often portrays China as a propaganda machine with an Iron Grip on the countries external image, but frankly I found the opposite to be true inside, I found educated intelligent individuals at all social economic levels with a passion for the arts whom thoroughly enjoyed discovering their country through the eyes of photography, my own included. These images, along with millions of others curated by China's dedicated photographers, now act as China's history record as they move forward and evolve, I think this is an important step in a really promising direction.
None of my images are paid for or set-up, they really are slices of life where the subjects are initially unaware of my existence, it's just how I prefer to capture honest moments in time. As a purist I want my images to capture honest emotion, real thought, not subject matter preoccupied with the camera or the photographer. Afterwards I'll go and talk to the person or people, explain what I'm doing, offer a Facebook portrait shot for free, buy a round of beers or pay for dinner, exchange emails and move on. It can be quite a nomadic lifestyle, but one which allows a depth of penetration into a society otherwise impossible to attain."
Barnaby Jaco Skinner lived in China between 2011 and 2015 working for both international organistaions and the Tianjin / Beijing municipal governments. He won three awards at national level with the government with his work in the arts and tourism.
VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED - SOME IMAGES DISPLAY LIVESTOCK HUSBANDRY.