Working with the Elements

Yesterday I went to see the work of Cang Xin. Cang Xin is a photographer and a shaman. He is someone who believes that all things have spirit.

His color photographs in the series Man and the Sky Series 1 and 2 are pictures of Chinese landscape populated by men (and a few women) chest-deep (or deeper) in holes or lakes. In several of the photos, we see large circles of fire with a human buried chest-deep in each center. We see magical numbers: seven circles, eleven. We see seven rows of seven men each.

In one photo, humans stand chest-deep in water, rocks held high above their heads. In some cases, only arms and the rock appear above the water. In another lake photo, the men are holding tree branches.

In some photos, the men are in a trance-like state. In others, they look back at the viewer, as curious about us as we are about them.

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