Life Under the Bridge

under the bridge

One day, as I was walking along a canal, I stumbled across someone’s or several people’s living arrangements. I don’t see a lot of homelessness in Zhengzhou, but I know it exists. I’m not certain what part of the city I had wandered into. The canal has had a recent facelift, or in parts, a lack of a facelift. It looks as if the city built the freeways over the canals. During my walk that sometimes felt like walking into tunnels I found the original canal with the Chinese designs and details that I love. The aesthetic part of China, the art that is distinctly Chinese, what I had seen in books, but rarely find here in today’s modern and neon high-rise Zhengzhou. This canal is neglected. On one side, the wealthy side, the water is full and people play on speed boats and ride giant plastic swans, but on this side the water is low, dirty, and filled with trash. It looks forgotten or ignored, perhaps too slow for progress. It is in this place where I found that people were sleeping, and living.

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To me everything is an impression. A distant and disconnected impression of the truth and the illusions. Without access to the language I will always be a foreigner getting information second hand, third hand, and already tainted with opinions. Here under the bridge with the camera I can only see and snap and record and divine my own thoughts.

I don’t know why the people are living here. Maybe their homes were sold out from under them to make way for new buildings, maybe they are from the country looking for work, maybe their addicts. I will never know why they are living there, but through my lens and through the silence and amongst all the garbage that has been so casually tossed into this canal, I can’t help but feel these people- a family possibly- have been abandoned and neglected, hidden away deep under several towers of modern buildings and miles of freeway in the same manner as the original canal.

Place: Zhengzhou, China
Picture taken November 2013