Shi Yangkun（b.1992）was born in Henan province, China. He graduated from the University of the Arts London, London College of Communication in 2017. Yangkun is a young artist working with the medium of photography. His work has received awards including the PHMuseum Photography Grant, PDN Emerging Photographer, and the TOP20 Chinese Contemporary Photographer. He is a fellow of the Magnum Foundation of Photography and has received the Getty Images Grant.
About Retropia – words by Shi Yangkun:
Since the founding of The People’s Republic of China, the rural areas have undergone several reforms. In the 1980s, after China launched the reform and opening-up policy — a series of economic and social reforms designed to transition the country away from Maoism and towards what national leaders have termed ‘market socialism,’ which has gradually become the dominant of the country’s development.
While most of the country embraced capitalism, not every place abandoned the collective dream. Villages such as Nanjie, Huaxi, and Dazhai never de-collectivized. Life in these areas is centered not around the private enterprise, but massive, collectively run village conglomerates that promise residents jobs, access to social services, and prosperity.
Some people are openly nostalgic for a time when Mao was China’s paramount leader and the state, at least on paper, looked after its citizens from cradle to the grave equally. But Mao’s China is a thing of the past, and younger, more individualistic villagers sometimes chafe under the reality of life live inside a time capsule.
Retrotopia seeks to tell the story of places that are at once radical and conservative; grand, yet mundane; relics of China’s past, and ambiguous symbols of its often paradoxical present.