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China 1983 Street Photography

Gwen Elizabeth Bullock | China

China 1983 ~ a bicycle economy

Newly opened to tourists, China in 1983 was a society of bicycles and Mao blue uniforms. Daily photos are rare. Business was done on the street: sewing, dentistry, traditional medicine, artesian shops; human taxi-carts, goods carried on one’s back and on bicycles. After harvest, people sat idle with Grandparents on the streets. Noodle shops were common. Markets were the main social event.

In 2018 Gwen met a Chinese graduate student, Hongliang, who interpreted activities and objects in her photos. Hong learned about this era from stories his grandfather told him. These pieces of precious memory, augmented by visuals he had never “seen”, helped him to reconnect his family roots.

Gwen recalls being in a country that had not seen western women traveling alone. The contrast between “restricted areas” in this new political opening, and the friendly curiosity of folks on the street, revealed a hunger for exchange and friendship, evident in their direct smiling towards the camera. People were pleased to have their photos taken. This is another in Gwen’s series of street photography originally done only for her own remembrance.

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