Absurdity, Allegory and China

The Kingdom from another angle.

Absurdity, Allegory and China header image 3


I’ve been living in Tianjin, China for the past decade and have spent a good deal of time in Beijing, watching as both of these cities have boomed. In recent years I have also spent a good deal of time in the Qinghai province countryside partnering with a local middle school on the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau in an attempt to increase educational opportunities for students in western China. I have documented much of this work through photography, and links to all the various collections can be found here.

Over the last few years photography has become my passion, and recently I had several of my photos published in One Night in Beijing. Here is a personal link to many of the photos I shot for that project.

In June 2008 the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine (CAPA), Paris showed 129 of my photos of the CCTV Headquarters project in their exhibit “Dans la ville chinoise,” which included an exhibition on Chinese contemporary emerging architecture. Currently the Center of Contemporary Culture, Barcelona (CCCB) is exhibiting several more of my photos in a show that runs through February 2009.

Despite being 40 years removed from my hometown of Philadelphia, I still follow the Phillies, though now no longer as penance.

As the years pile on, I find that it all just gets more interesting. Not any simpler, just more interesting. And one could not ask for much more than that. There you go.

–Jim Gourley

Contact: rudenoon (at) gmail.com


9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 beth // Mar 6, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Your photo header certainly presents the sense of frantic activity that is occurring here in China.

  • 2 marlo poras // Jun 25, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I’ve been looking at a lot of blogs lately as I research a documentary film about young urban women in China, and yours is truly a standout. I love the elegance of the header photos and the whole site is really elegant. Great to see your photos as well, congrats on the Paris show.

    I’m a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY — if you want to check out my work, you can visit (www.grannyd.com, http://www.marloporas.com). I’m partnering with Yu Ying Wu Chou on this project, she edited the PBS/Frontline series Country Boys (www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/countryboys/).

    We’re documentary portraitists – we craft intimate portraits of women over time. For the past few months we’ve been researching a new film about young urban women in China. We made our first research trip to Beijing in March and will return to China in September.

    So much has been written/researched about the one child generation, particularly about the “Little Emperors,” but we’re most interested in the new opportunities and realities for young women in China. We find the story of the women of the one child generation to be pretty fascinating – they’re the first generation of girls in Chinese history to be the sole focus of not just their parents but their extended family’s life – with all the parents attention and future prospects resting on these girls shoulders. It engenders a different sense of self and of possibility, even if parents are ambivalent about having a girl.

    We’re eager to meet single young woman roughly between the ages of 23-32 who might fit the bill as a documentary subject. We plan to make an intimate portrait of a young woman over the course of one to two years, making approx 4-5 trips per year, each trip lasting 1-2 weeks. We’d like to craft a full portrait of the woman’s life – as full as is possible – including her friends, family, and workplace. The film would mainly consist of the reality of her everyday life, augmented with interviews — so we’d be filming her as flies on the wall during her everyday life.

    The film would detail the complicated reality of life for young urban women — the excitement of the manifold possibilities for them, the hard reality many of them face in terms of having to support their parents or in terms of struggling to figure themselves and their own futures out — so we can give Americans a much richer portrait of the growing middle class than anything they’ve seen.

    The most important qualities we’re looking for are charisma, comfort in front of the camera, openness, and good self-awareness. Oh, and she should be single. We’re totally flexible as far as interests/background. Our goal on the next trip is to meet as many women as possible, the more the better.

    All this is an extremely long introduction! I hope that the project piques your interest. If you have any recommendations of people we should contact there, we’d be incredibly grateful — either for women who might be potential subjects for the film, or for people who might be able to introduce us to women.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. Thanks for your time!

    All my best,
    Marlo Poras


  • 3 Sophie Pilgrim // Aug 6, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Dear Jim,

    Evidently attractive to us Parisians, I came across your blog looking for images of Tianjin and found it very interesting.

    I’m a journalist at France 24 in Paris. I’d love to find out about the atmosphere in the city now the games are starting. Could I give you a call?

    Kind regards,


  • 4 Peony // Aug 20, 2008 at 1:24 am

    I had a quick question for you. When you get a minute, could you email me? Gorgeous photos.

  • 5 Friday Focus: Absurdity, Allegory and China : Ruminate // Nov 4, 2008 at 4:56 am

    […] Friday Focus blog is Absurdity, Allegory and China, a creation of Jim Gourley, a blogger, author, and and amazing photographer. I met Jim many years ago on a mailing list of […]

  • 6 Joseph Uccello // Nov 27, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Jim, it has been a few years since I last spoke to you in person in your apartment in Tianjin. I just found your rudenoon site written on Michael’s business card that I got on that visit. Checked it out, and your blog here, and am delighted, and very excited to delve into it. Can’t find any contact info for you though, but I would very much like to establish contact. Please write…

  • 7 Michael Steverson // Dec 21, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I just subscribed to the feed Jim. Excellent blog, I am looking forward to catching up via the archives.

  • 8 Joel // Jul 3, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Hi, Jim. Don’t know what took me so long to find your blog. I love the photos, and just subscribed to your Tianjin category.

    We’ve been blogging Tianjin for two years now, living on ZiJinNan Lu directly across from the Sheraton hotel, just south of the TV tower.

  • 9 isomorphismes // May 13, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I love the “marxism” on the side.

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