Chris Barrett is a young British photographer, Master of photojournalism at the University of Westminster, Bachelor of Fine Arts at Nottingham Trent University. In the past he has undertaken photo projects in North Korea, Georgia, Iran and many other Asian countries. He has been working off and on in China for six years spending 2 years researching and shooting his ongoing photographic around the issue of “China’s one-child policy”. [new] Futures is an exhibition of something of this work which will be held between November 29 to December 9 in London’s Great Eastern Bear Gallery exhibit.
Digital version of the newspaper that accompanies his photographic work, hard copies available at the gallery, in London.
[new] Futures: Understanding China Using Cropped and other Taken Images by Chris Barrett Is a photographic exhibition that touches upon an enduring exploration into the intended and unintended by-products and ramifications that the policy has been responsible for. In an ongoing dialogue between the photographer [Chris Barrett], Chinese nationals and the world-at-large, an interesting visual perspective emerges in regards to the People’s Republic of China, it’s populous and the people amongst the population- something we are sure to learn more about in the near future. Exhibition runs from the 30th November to the 9th December, Private View 29th November, from 6.30pm. East London – Great Eastern Bear Gallery, 8A Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3NT
Often referred to as the ‘one-child policy’ by those outside of China, the Policy of Birth Planning (Jìhuà shengyù Zhèngcè) has been spoken about in terms of iconic symbolism representing the country. From 1979, along with the economic reforms attributed to Deng Xiaoping, the policy limiting births was gradually implemented across all of China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the mainland. Its purpose was to fast track the youths’, and thereafter the country’s ascent into the developed world – all the while containing the population and lessening the risk of hardship and famine. Since 1979 however, it would seem there have been as many variations in the policy as there have been incidences of humanitarian concern, and it is only under the guise of economic benefit that the policy has been maintained to this very day.
The People’s Republic of China is a country going through several stages of development simultaneously, whilst also channeling a lot of its energy into maintaining an image of harmony. The on-going work produced for this exhibition aims to present an honest and inquisitive visual response to this harmonious veneer and the discord that can be found behind it. A series of formal images that study the average modern Chinese family are integrated with a selection of other less-promoted imagery, including images published on Weibo – the Chinese equivalent of twitter. This was done in order to address the much-talked- about ‘two Chinas’. The notion of these two separate entities parallels the overwhelming disparity between those
who benefit from the system and those who do not. Outside China the policy is seen as highly controversial, but in China the vox populi suggests that there are mixed feelings toward it. China now stands at a foreign crossroads and the policy’s future can be questioned and challenged in an official capacity. At this period in Chinese history, can the Chinese Communist party afford to lessen its grip on the ‘individual’ ?
In the 13th Zhongguó Wunián Jìhuà (Central Committee of the Communist Party’s) five year plan meeting which will take place in 2015- 16, the era of the enforced lone child may well come to an end, as it has in a few major cities. However, the ramifications of the policy will continue for generations to come. A dwindling labour-led workforce and the largest ageing population in the world, combined with the rapid emergence of an educated middle-class- with-a-voice are a few of the issues that are bubbling away in the hot pot of the Middle Kingdom.
This exhibition only scratches at the surface of the extraordinary dynamism in China; presenting a glimpse into the many contrasts and contradictions that underpin the everyday conflicts of people and Republic, economic reform and human need, which are all ultimately encompassed in China’s own persistent notions of modernity and tradition.
Some of his work:
When we spoke to Chris about his work, he said,
I’m looking to reach out and connect with more people about the birth planning policy in China, what people think and the ramification it is having…I believe my take is a story fundamentally about population but a vehicle, I hope, to learn more about China, sharing the same goals as ChinaHush in its intention to balance out perceptions of China in order to get closer to the truth.
Chris is continuing his research on the birth planning policy in order to obtain a more in depth body of work. If you are a Chinese national born after 1979 then please do contact Chris to fill in a 26 question questionnaire by emailing Chris direct cjb[at]chrisbarrettphoto.com