The Chinese Photojournalist Maohair

There is a popular post at NetEase (copied at 6park part 2 and part 1) which is a selection of the works of the Chinese photojournalist Maohair (毛孩儿).  The man has an MSN Spaces weblog called 小猴悟空.  The top post there is a slide show for some of his work.  On the blog, the self-secription of Maohair is:

On the business card, the title 'photojournalist' is printed.  But I am actually just a peasant who likes to play around with a camera.

Here is a photograph purportedly of Maohair himself.

In the following, a subset of photographs have been chosen from the NetEase post.  These were selected in part because of their shock value, and therefore you are forewarned that some of the photographs may make you feel uncomfortable.

The first striking thing is about the photographer himself.  Bearing in mind that Maohair is only twenty-three years old, one has to wonder how he manages to put himself in the right place at the right time so often.  You should also bear in mind that photographing probably should not have been allowed in some of the situations, either because it was interfering with rescue activities, or because it touched upon taboo subjects (e.g. mining accidents), or because it intruded into privacy.  So when you look at these photographs, you should also think about the circumstances under which they were taken.  Most of them were probably hit-and-run opportunistic, although it was clear that the photographer must have created the opportunities by wile and determination.

The second striking thing is that these photographs from a young photographer communicate a portrait of Chinese society that even words cannot.  It is extraordinary that this body of work should come from a photojournalist based in Shenyang.  By comparison, for example, there are undoubtedly all sorts of photojournalists in Hong Kong or New York City but it is hard to imagine that any of them would have a body of work like Maohair that seems to capture the spirit and mood of his society in such stunning fashion.  Could it be that there are simply many more unusual things happening in a rapidly changing society in China than elsewhere at this moment?

In Dengta city, a newly wed couple perished in a car accident.
The bridegroom's 62-year-old father cried against the wedding photograph.

Fetching dead fish from the contaminated river.

Car accidents occur often, but it is rare to see
one of this magnitude in which the driver was only slightly injured.

At the police station, Ms. Han identifies the police officer who assaulted her sister.
Later, it would turn out that it was her sister who assaulted the police officer

"Mom, there's still someone inside the car!"

Right in the middle of the street, a man starts taking off his trousers.
His sister said that he was just drunk and not mentally insane.

Someone died at a factory.
Ordinarily, the factory gates would be shut.
But there are angles from which this is even better observed.

A truck flipped over on the Beijing-Shenyang expressway
and 30 tons of pears were spread all over the road.

Just over 20 seconds ago, a motorcycle collided with a car.

Ms. Zhang turned down the sexual demands of her live-in boyfriend,
who poured five kilograms of boiling oil on her.

Ms. Yu is offering 30,000 RMB in reward money to anyone
who can identify the car or driver 
responsible for killing her mother in an accident

The only piece of household consumer electronic goods left after a fire

This man is still alive!

A man making a mobile telephone call with his back turned to the traffic
had just been run over by a tow truck

An 18-year-old man had to sleep in open airs because he hadn't found a job yet.
He was assaulted by seven drabbily dressed young people and
then buried alive with bricks and concrete slabs on top.
Although he was taken to the hospital, he did not survive.

Although his younger brother and other co-workers dug him out of the sand quickly,
it would be two hours afterwads and he was already dead by then.

A child was involved in this car accident and suffered a gash on his head.

A survivor from the Mengjiagou mining disaster

In the middle of the city, a man chopped up his own hand.
When asked why just one hand, he said he wanted to keep the other.

Another car accident in which the plastic crates were scattered everywhere.

In Dongling distrcit, a 12-year-old boy drowned
when he slid into the river.

In Dongling district, a public bus killed a 7-year-old boy
on his way home after school.
The father holds his hands to his face and weeps.

At this railroad crossing, more than 30 citizens have been killed aleady
(see the bloody flesh that is still there from the last accident).
Still, the citizens continue to use this crossing
because the nearest pedestrian overpass 
is more than 1 kilometer away.

How to manufacture brand name beers:
Get used bottles of premium brands,
fill them up with cheap beer 
and put the caps on again.

Erotic dancing in front of a 12-year-old spectator

Migrant workers climb up the construction towers at the site
to demand their back wages

Fire at an entertainment venue.
At the news tip line, someone called to say:
"Send a reporter over quickly.
The music hall is on fire, 
and the girls are running into the street butt naked!"

An old lady who picked trash at the garbage dump
was killed when she was run over by an earthmover.
Her relatives cried at the scene.

A 9-year-old girl was killed at a zebra crossing
by a public bus which violated traffic rules.
Her mother just heard the news.

Even though it was raining, the fire continued to rage.

The restaurant owner just had an encounter with municipal administrators
who were trying to get rid of sidewalk restaurants

Two illegal train ticket vendors found a retarded child 
who was abandoned by his parents.
Spectators told them to discard the baby.
They said that it would be too cruel.
The vendor in yellow said:
"I have to scalp train tickets all day here
because my parents are divorced
 and neither one wants me."

A boy swimming in the river drowned.

After the collision, the girl in the passenger seat got out.
First, she took out a small mirror and checked herself,
and then called for help for the trapped driver.

Mr. Zhao's 14-year-old Internet addict son 
has disappeared from home for more than one week.
Mr. Zhao has been looking him for all day in the Internet bars.
It is now dark, and he still has no luck.

A fire swept through the warehouse of an underpants distrbutor.
The more than 100,000 pairs of underpants in the warehouse got wet.
They are being laid out to be dried in this sun.

A factory owner was killed when his cousin
doused him with gasoline and set him on fire

A 30-something-year old man jumps out of his building
after an argument with his wife.
According to neighbors, his wife was a major shrew.

In the collapsed well, Wang Wei's hands were shaking
as he quickly puts an oxygen tube into his
partially buried brother Wang Bin's mouth

Elementary school student Wang rode a bicycle 
across the village committee's green lawn.
He was lectured and paraded in public.
When he went home, his mother had a loud argument with someone.
So Wang took out a bottle of pesticde and drank the whole thing.

The injured victim of a gas explosion squatting on the hospital bed

Meat vendor Chen had an argument with the municipal adminstrators
and then he had a few drinks too many.
He went to the municipal office, 
poured gasoline on himself and lit himself up.

In Puhe village, there was a wedding
in which the party was invaded by men wielding knifes.
The bridgegrrom's two cousins were seriously injured.
The next day, a man called the newspaper and claimed responsibility,
saying that the bride had lived with him previously.

Migrant workers rushed a colleague towards the ambulance.
An hour ago, the frame of the main building collapsed
and 14 migrant workers were buried underneath.

Late that night, the fire brigade was looking 
for the last missing person with a dog.
The next day, when he was found, he was dead.

Migrant workers waiting for their pay 
so that they can return home.

At a construction site, the man named Zhou 
had just called his wife in Hubei.
Then tears began to stream down his face.
In the construction business, unpaid wages are a frequent thing.

Another fatal car accident.
What can be done except to offer another sigh?

Curious children