Photo by TanTan
I’m drawn to both the simplicity and complexity of photography, always amazed at the great power of a single photo, which can sway emotions, touch the heart, and induce changes.
Rip Waigong Maternal Grandpa
On Feb 14, 2020, my 96-year-old maternal grandpa (外公) passed away at home. We witnessed his 15-minute-long dying process, which was peaceful and painless regardless of the unavoidable shortness of breath. When the moment of his death came, our whole family surrounded his deathbed, chanting Namo Amituofo over and over again. Many say this simple yet powerful Buddhist prayer can help a dying person embrace or even welcome the end of life, but, I believe, it primarily works for the family members to release and overcome the fear of losing their dying loved ones. Now I’m making this photo album on 清明節, the Tomb-Sweeping Day, as a memorial to my 外公. And from now on, I shall always think of him with a smile as he had never forgot to smile through trying times. The background music, what death will be like by Momus, is recommended by my Y小宅. R.I.P. 外公 and R.I.P. everyone.
Beijing Amid 2019-nCoV Epidemic
Ten days after hunkering down in my Beijing home from Jan 23, 2019 to Feb 1, 2020, all I wanted was a breath of fresh air. Given the surge of the conoravirus infections and deaths of course I was well aware of the risk of going outside, but I was desperate to get out and to see what Beijing would look like amidst the epidemic. The usually bustling city center to which Yezi offered to drive me has become eerily empty and quiet. We could actually count the total number of people we met in the all of three hours we were there. I also wandered around my neighborhood in Haidian which has been kept in semi-quarantine. The only gate of four that remains open to our apartment complex was guarded by a group of people who check the temperature of all residents as they venture in and out. When I felt everything had gotten stuck I saw my 78-year-old grandma practicing Taiji at home with intense concentration. At that moment the demoralization of spirit that had overcome me vanished as if by magic. Now I hope the epidemic will vanish similarly and soon.
Northwest China impressed me in many ways: the story of ancient silk road, the mysterious Buddhist grottoes, the cave dwellings in the Loess Plateau, the vast desert terrain, the overwhelming mountains, the red cheeks of the northwestners, the bright blessed day and the dark secret night……
I did an intensive M.A in Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and will soon start a PhD there to continue and expand my MA research. I am into everything about Jerusalem. The charm of the city has made an otherwise difficult academic life a lot easier. All photos of Jerusalem are taken by Leica M Monochrome. I have many cameras, but when I press the shutter, none of them allows me to be as bold, determined, and creative as does my Leica MM. And these are essential qualities I need to photograph Jerusalem.
I stayed in HongKong from Sep 2015 to July 2016, during which I switched my apartments for three times, from Sham Shui Po to Causeway Bay to Kennedy Town. Most of my photos of HK were thus taken in these three areas. I would walk on the same streets every day but never felt tired of shooting them, where I see HongKong’s glamourous skyscrapers and a more glamourous world below them.
Yeye's Final Days
There are two things yeye 爺爺 (my grandpa) always feels proud of. First, he served as an engineer in the air force of China in 1950s and worked with the engineers of the former USSR. Second, he has me as his granddaughter. At the age of 85, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He could no longer fix the engine of a military aircraft, but he still has his granddaughter with him through his final days.
Monks and Monasteries
I’ve visited many monasteries in China. Some are isolated mountain sanctuaries; some are national monuments. I’ve also befriended many monks and nuns. Some are abbots and abbesses and some are just my classmates at the universities. But I don’t think I’ve known everything about the monastic life, and I want to know more through my camera.
I have two memories of my stay in Kathmandu in the spring of 2015. One is the radiant smile on people’s faces that never seemed to fade. Another is an 8.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal at noon of 25 April when I was about to check out of a hotel at Thamel, the center of the tourist industry in Kathmandu. These two memories will always remind me of how precious life is and that its beauty is inseparable from its fragility.