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Time tells the truth

By Xu Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-16 10:55

Time tells the truth

The four women stand in the same place and strike the same pose as they did decades ago. Photo by Hei Ming

He recalls a long chat with a 91-year-old monk in Hunan province who was in the bloody Battle of Changde in 1943 and was one of just three survivors in his regiment. The interview lasted three days.

However, few smiling faces can be seen in Hei's photos of the veterans. Instead there are many lonely, stooped silhouettes in dilapidated houses.

Time tells the truth

"In particular, Kuomintang veterans who didn't leave the mainland for Taiwan before 1949 used to struggle to gain recognition of their contributions to the resistance against Japanese invaders. Some were treated badly during the political movements in the three decades following the country's founding, labeled 'counter-revolutionaries' and even jailed," Hei says.

Besides veterans, Hei has also zoomed in on social groups, including those intellectuals who were labeled as "rightists" in the Anti-Rightist Movement (1957-59); and those educated young people who, from the 1950s until the end of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), were sent to rural areas to live and work.

"What these intellectuals, educated young people and veterans have in common is that many ended up in difficulties despite their hard work," Hei says.

"I hope my photography and writing can arouse public attention about these groups' circumstances and help improve their lives."

It gives Hei a strong sense of achievement to see impoverished interviewees receive donations for their hospital bills or job offers after people see his photos.

"My photography is not the kind of art that belongs to just a small circle. I don't want to indulge in self-admiration of my photos at home together with a few friends," Hei says.

"I'm presenting life and social changes through my photos and I want to get my observations across to the masses."

The 49-year-old has published more than 20 photo collections, most of them about "people": 100 farmers, 100 Shaolin monks, 100 Tibetan people, and 100 inhabitants of border areas.

Time tells the truth

A 1970 picture of four girls, each holding a small red book of late Chairman Mao Zedong, in Tian'anmen Square.

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