Living Otherwise: Buddhist Photography on the New Silk Road

Images of Detachment

Even more often we see the faces of young men who stare directly into the camera with blank expressions – refusing to let us read their emotions. In Tian Lin’s words they are like “wild grass,” growing-up and becoming silent. These are images of detachment from the norms of contemporary Chinese social life; they are images of staying alive by holding onto life in a community of wanderers. They are images of staying committed to life on the margins of a city that does not want them. They help us think about this community of wanderers as a complex whole made up of particular stories and experiences. We are looking at images of blocked lives. These are tough kids who cling to their dignity by refusing to submit to the rules of the city. They are images of staying committed to life on the margins of a city that does not want them. 

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