12.13.16
VII | VII Observations

Fur Coat, Dongling, China, 2012


Photo by by Sim Chi Yin / VII. Fur Coat, Dongling, China, 2012.


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From the photographer: "Standing in the middle of a rural street, trying to hail a local bus, this young woman is the archetypal Chinese migrant worker, leaving the countryside for the towns and cities — to work for a better life. Her faux fur coat, leopard skin patterned bag, and shin-high leather boots hint at her urban aspirations, even as she shuffles down a gravelly village street, probably heading back to town after a visit home.

I was stepping out of a car on a trip to a village in landlocked Anhui province in central China when she caught my eye. I made just a few frames but for me, she’s become the face of the millions of young migrant workers who drive China’s urban economy, the same people I photographed in my long-term project "The Rat Tribe". They are full of youthful zeal to make it big in the city and to move up in life. What I see in her appearance, posture, expression is a typical hopefulness and tenacity common to many migrants around the world. But in it is also the growing disjunct between country and city, the emerging discomfort younger Chinese have for the rural life as China deals with the largest ever domestic migration in human history.  This image is the cover of the book Out to Work: Migration, Gender, and the Changing Lives of Rural Women in Contemporary China, by Arianne Gaetano.”

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