Behind the Great Wall



Travelling for 32 hours from Guangzhou to Shanghai, and another 24 hours from Shanghai to Beijing. Visiting the streets of Hong Kong, Beijing and Guangzhou. Talking to people of different jobs, different ages and cultural backgrounds, listening to their stories and taking photos of them. Behind the Great Wall is the story of a Dutch photographer's Chinese impression.

Documentary photographer Willem Wernsen (1954 The Netherlands), known among others from Fotofestival Naarden 2013, visited China in 1999 and took pictures with his Mamiya 6x6 camera. "They saw a 1.8-meter-tall man with a cowboy hat and a weird camera. They were curious about me." It seems their curiosity helped people to lower their defences against this foreign photographer.

"I look with my eyes, I see with my soul," said Wernsen. The people photographed were chosen as representatives of his inner soul. You can see longing in their eyes, or guileless smiles on their faces. His images seek to tell a story about the real living and working situation of the working class.

The images included here are extracted from Wernsen's self-published photobook, Behind the Great Wall, published in 2014.