????Martin Li, Chen Yue
????IMAGES are a strong way of communicating history, British journalist D J Clark said in an interview with Shenzhen Daily last week. Clark is a tutor for World Press Photo (WPP), an independent, nonprofit organization that holds the world’s largest annual press photography contest.
????Clark arrived in Shenzhen last week to attend the inaugural International Urban Images Festival Futian, which opened in Shuiwei urban village Friday evening and will last until Sept. 9.
????“Images are a very strong way of giving a sense of place,” said Clark, a multimedia journalist whose work focuses on social justice. “The great thing about images is that they cross and bridge barriers.”
????Clark filmed a short video about Shuiwei in which a 65-year-old villager, Zhuang, describes how the village has changed. The video made its debut at Friday’s opening ceremony. It contrasts old photos of the village with its modern images.
????“When I walked in Shuiwei, I met a lot of foreigners living here. It’s a great way of overcoming barriers. People in the village speak Cantonese, that kind of shows the richness of languages. I think that’s where photography and video really make a huge difference because with images, everyone can share and gain understanding,” said Clark.
????“I think images are a very good way of explaining what I’m saying. This guy (Zhuang, from the video) is telling a story about what it was, but unless you can see the images, it’s difficult to understand,” he said.
????In Clark’s video there are food vendors, employees of convenience stores and pharmacy clerks.
????“What’s interesting about Shuiwei is it does feel like somewhere that’s different from the main city. A lot of the houses are much lower. I haven’t seen any 7-11s and McDonald’s in the village,” he said.
????“It still has a local sense. The restaurants feel local. The shops feel local. But there’s modernity all over the place. So it’s a nice combination, but it definitely has a different feel from generic Chinese cities,” he said.
????He feels that villagers should put forth an effort to preserve their identity in the wake of urban development.
????As an example, Clark noted Greenwich Village, an urban village in New York.
????“Greenwich has a very special feeling to it. A lot of artists live there, a lot of creative people. But it obviously has a history as well,” he said.
????Clark also said he is impressed by China’s rural changes in the past 30 years.
????“Generally the services, education, food, roads, health care — all of these basic things — have changed radically in the countryside in the last 30 years. That’s something which is very difficult to summarize and express,” he said.
????Clark’s Shuiwei video is part of the 30-part series he is filming that uses individual stories to tell a larger narrative, particular that of the last 20 to 30 years in China.