The Poor In Spirit

Yang Yankang

The Poor In Spirit

Yang Yankang

Distributed for Unicorn Publishing Group

168 pages | 70 halftones | 12 x 12
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781912690053 Published September 2019 For Sale in USA and Canada Only

Catholicism’s history in China spans more than seven hundred years. In that time, it’s had its ups and downs, especially since the founding of New China, but its adherents have never disappeared. Particularly in out-of-the-way rural areas, Catholicism represents important spiritual sustenance for many, and it penetrates all aspects of daily life.

Yang Yankang spent ten years in the Shaanxi countryside creating The Poor in Spirit, his exquisite set of works documenting Chinese rural Catholics. With empathy and humor, 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. The images themselves have a visual intensity, and the photographer expresses compassion through them.

Yang Yankang’s photographs demonstrate a courage in facing and representing Chinese social reality, and by turning the lens on people marginalized by the mainstream—vulnerable groups deliberately neglected by the powerful elite—he has created a collection of documentary photography at the pinnacle of its form. In partnership with Intron International Cultural Development, the Unicorn Chinese Artists series features leading Chinese contemporary artists whose works are not yet well known enough outside China.

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