Interview with Guan Zitian

管子天 Guan Zitian was born in a small village in the north of China, in 1978. Now he is a documentary director and freelance photographer based in Beijing. His artist’s statement is one of the few things we can find about him on the Internet:

Purposeless.
Not for fortune nor for fame.
Shooting no beggars.
Shooting no handicapped.
Shooting no reluctant subjects.
Neither recording misfortune of life, nor violating the privacy of others.
Only reveling in an affection to nature and the sensations of life.

We can’t find much information about you on the Internet. Could you please tell us shortly how you started taking photographs? Did you study photography in school or on your own?

I think taking photos is a very personal thing. I refuse almost all the invitations of photography events and contests.

I was a bad student and I never went to university. Photography doesn’t require education, but it needs a sensitive and desired heart.

I wanted to take photos because I desired a camera. It was a luxury for our family to possess a camera, and during my whole childhood I had only taken two photos. Later I bought a small 4mega pixel digital camera, with which I shot people around me everyday. Eventually everybody said I was good at taking photos. At that time, I didn’t even know what a professional camera was.

Shooting no beggars. Shooting no handicapped. Shooting no reluctant subjects. Neither recording misfortune of life, nor violating the privacy of others.” We found these words on your Flickr page. Why did you decide not to portrait this part of the life that could be  “not so beautiful”?

Personally, I don’t want to be forced, neither do I desire to force others.

From bottom of my heart, I admire desperate and melancholy atmosphere, which is not delivered bluntly by the miserable people in life. Instead I prefer veiled expression. I respect individuals and their feelings. People is a part of my work, and I don’t want my shooting to become one of their miseries.

In your photographic work, we can find portraits of children from rural environment. What can we see or learn about you in these photos?

Once I went back to my hometown. I was disappointed to find significant changes that have taken place. Less and less kids were there, and there is less and less vitality. From then on, I went to shoot these children. I was actually shooting my own childhood, my nostalgia.

Although I know all is gone, I am still reluctant to let it go.

Did you find problems when taking pictures of certain kind of people, the children, for instance?

The most difficult part is undoubtedly my laziness and procrastination. The rest is not a problem. There are too many things distracting my attention.

When you take pictures of landscapes, you show large pieces of land, and most of the times they are rural and lonely places. Do you prefer showing these areas of China rather than big Chinese cities?

Maybe it’s because I love being free, and a stretching boundless horizon. However, when I am truly in this situation, I find that we are lost, becoming more lonely, desperate and ignorant.

Admittedly, the pace of urban construction in China has been on a rocket, yet it’s a total failure. The unexpected change of time assimilates Chinese cities, causing them to lose their characters. Once I indeed made a brief trying to explore this issue by filming, but I was really not a fan of shuttling in the city. I don’t want to force myself into that.

How do you combine video and photography? Which of them do you like the most?

I am a director and that’s how I earn my living. It’s something I have to do, no matter I love it or not. But photography is a different story. it’s my true love. That’s why I only shoot what I like when taking photos (never to cater to reputation or benefit)

Who is your reference in photography?

There are not many photographers that I know, neither I am keen on watching big-name works. What influence me most are poems, other literature and Buddhism.

I believe reflection upon reality and life is my best mentor.

What do you think about Asian current photography?

I have limited knowledge about the photography circle. However, I have seen some works by modern-day photographers on Internet. Many of them are limited by the photography itself, instead of striding it as a tool to think.

To me there are two levels of photography. The first level remains a feast for eyes and the second level dives deeply into your heart.

All the techniques become embarrassing and trivialized in the eternity of time.

Time will filter everything out and leave the classics.

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    • ASTILLEROS MESTRINA S.A.
    • 12/12/12

    Reblogged this on ASTILLEROS MESTRINA S.A. and commented:
    Beautiful Image

    • omar
    • 14/12/12

    Estaría bueno traducido a nuestro idioma

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