Known for her unconventional approach to portrait photography, most notably her classic trilogy The Sleepers , The Travelers , and The Narcissists , Elizabeth Heyert again assumes her role as observer and voyeur in her latest book, The Outsider , photographed during four trips to China. Fascinated by the rituals of Chinese amateur photographers, who seem to shoot incessantly, often with family members looking on and directing, and with an intimacy with their environment that borders on stagecraft, Heyert embarked on a project to photograph the Chinese taking photographs of each other. Unable to speak their language, she worked, in her words “like an unseen ghost wandering around with a vintage Leica and Tri-X in a country where film is no longer even sold”. Few Chinese possess family photographs from the past, as so much was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, which may explain the intensity of the photography she witnessed. She calls the project The Outsider because, as a Westerner in the East, and a stranger in a foreign culture searching for authenticity, she allowed herself to be a spectator to the photographer/subject relationship. These are portraits of the Chinese, by the Chinese, scrupulously observed by Heyert, a dedicated witness to the birth of a new collective visual memory.
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Damiani (5 October 2017)