by Documentary Photographer Ryan Pyle
Opens August 6th through to September 25th 2009
Born in 1978 in Toronto, Canada, Ryan Pyle spent his early years close to home. After obtaining a degree in International Politics from the University of Toronto in 2001, Ryan realized a life long dream and traveled to China on an exploratory mission. In 2002 Ryan moved to China permanently and began documenting China visually.
In 2005, Ryan Pyle became a regular contributor to the New York Times covering China, where he documented issues such as rural healthcare, illegal land seizures, bird flu and pollution. More recently he has branched out in to mostly magazine work expanding his portfolio to include the Time, Newsweek, Outside Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, Fortune and Der Spiegel. Ryan Pyle is based in Shanghai, China.
Ryan is a reportage style photographer, working almost exclusively in 35mm format range finder cameras. His work drifts between journalism and fine art as he roams through China shedding light on the country and its diverse people.
Most recently, it has been the people of China’s western Xinjiang province that have been the primary focus of Ryan’s work, and it was in 2006 that he decided to begin on long-term documentation of this mysterious and remote part of the world.
Formerly known as Chinese Turkistan, this vast expanse of deserts and mountains has seemingly always been at a crossroads between cultures and time. For centuries criminals, holy men, and traders tramped across the region; and it was out of this tradition that the Silk Road was established.
Surrounded on three sides by some of the highest mountain ranges in the world, with the Gobi desert blocking the forth, Chinese Turkistan is one of the most isolated places on earth.
As his project has progressed, Ryan has begun to take a closer look at life in this region. Drawn by its vast size, colorful minorities, harsh landscapes and Islamic foundation; Ryan visits mosques, local herdsmen, farming communities and former silk road trading posts trying to capture what he feels is a collection of cultures under threat from China’s breakneck growth in the region.
“The culture is vanishing before my eyes”, Ryan says, “each time I return something is missing: a market, an old shop full of blacksmiths, a local mosque.” Traveling only with a Uygur translator, Ryan feels that the importance of capturing these cultures is paramount because it is disappearing. “No other country in the world is knocking down old buildings faster to make way for new hotels, highways and airports than China. A few more years and there might not be much left at all; the whole country, from Beijing to Kashgar, is starting to look the same. It is a pity really, that the cultural diversity being lost is not something that can be faked, or easily brought back. This cultural fabric will be lost forever.”
Ryan was recently acknowledged as one of the PDN 30 (http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/index.jsp; http://www.pdngallery.com/gallery/pdns30/2009/) and Magenta Flash Forward (http://www.magentafoundation.org/books/flash-forward-2009/) ; awards given out to emerging photographers. He has also won awards in the PDN Photo Annual and Banff Mountain Culture competitions. Ryan lectures widely on China and its development and regularly contributes written opinion pieces to several publications dealing with photography, photojournalism and China.
Joining a long tradition of documentary photography, Ryan’s documentation of Chinese Turkistan melds this tradition with that of fine art film photography. Each print in this show is hand printed in a wet darkroom, the processes echoing the images.
Ryan will speak about his work Thursday, August 6th at 6:30PM. The reception will be held from 7PM-9PM.
Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Lecture at 6:30PM;
Reception begins at 7PM
Dylan Ellis Gallery @ Elevator Digital
42 Industrial Street