The river

For reasons unconnected, but which seem connected, I’ve been thinking about my years living overseas recently. This has led me to rummage around in the cupboard and see what images I have knocking about from my pre-digital days. The plastic bags I keep negatives and pictures in are a little random, to say the least. Tattered paper folders with three copies of the same image. Multiple sizes of the same image in separate envelopes. I can’t begin to imagine what these filing decisions mean, but then again, photography is “a secret about a secret”, as Susan Sontag wrote.

One very happy find was a small series of images made in Dandong, China. Dandong is a city built on the banks of the Yalu River, and it faces North Korea. It was no chore to sit and watch the riverside life after work and consider the country a few hundred metres away.

I lived in Dandong for two months during the summer of 2005. I met a girl there, too. This was reasonably inevitable, due to the fact we were placed in the same house by our school. Probably what wasn’t inevitable would be the fact that, twelve years on, we are married, live in our own house in New Zealand, and have two young daughters. She knew things about food and music, and her feet made a beautiful shape when she was lolling around on the couch watching rubbish movies with me. These are the things I remember.

So here’s two pictures made at that time, which for me will always be about a person who isn’t in them. But then photographs inspire unique reactions from us all.

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 1.58.10 pm


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