Adou: Samalada
Pace/MacGill Gallery
New York

China’s recent rapid industrialization is well known. Yet in the images of Chinese photographer Adou, his native Sichuan province seems hardly advanced from the 19th century. In the foothills of Samalada mountain, sheep mill about the feet of farmers and migrant workers. Old women (one a “witch”) clutch chickens or swans. Only the odd detail—a pair of tennis shoes, a pickup truck in the background—places these people in the 21st century. Adou gives his images an additional antique feel by using expired black-and-white film, which creates a mottled look. What gives his pictures power, though, are the finely etched faces of his steely subjects.

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