Frank Rothe

In the age of 19 I had this idea to travel to Africa. I made it to Kenya and Egypt, after a short period I met someone from Brasilia and he invited me to Asia. So I booked a new flight from Cairo to Bangkok. This was in 1991, Bangkok was a interesting dirty place full of life. To make it short, after a while in Thailand and Hong Kong I shipped over to China. I took a ferry boat from Hong Kong at night. When I woke up at the next morning I could see the mainland of China on the horizon. I remember it very good. A grey skyline with red flags. It looked like watching a black and white movie on an old TV.

After I got a stamp in my passport and entered China, the colours did not change much. China at this time was a country reminded me somehow on a washed out uniform. A decade later all of that had vanished. China became one of the strongest economies in Asia. The grey colour almost vanished and come back only on those days when the wind blows all the dirt of the Chinese industries into the cities. Then even the colours of new open restaurants and shops got a problem to fight it.

The Chinese dragon woke up again. The country what invented the noodles before the Italians could even cook them is one of the places everyone worldwide looks at. But who are they the Chinese? Do they work more then everyone else worldwide, to they never sleep, are they more intelligent then the other people on the planet, how do they think, how do they feel and what’s there plan for the future? Those questions leaded me to my project “China Naked”. I wanted to photograph them naked, so that everyone could see how do they look like and that there is no difference between a Chinese and someone else throughout the world.

But I did not know, that Chinese people don’t get naked in front of the camera. I asked my Chinese friends to help me with that project, but on the first evening in Beijing they told me: “Frank, you will never get a Chinese naked in front of your camera.” They also tried it already and succeeded only with bar breasted women, mostly there own sisters. I did not know about that and so it took me a while to find 21 Chinese people all of different age and sex. From the right beginning I was only interested to portrait them as naked ones. So I asked them to leave there clothes on the ground so everyone could later see how they entered the build up studio.

On the other side I photographed the landscapes of Beijing and Shanghai to show the speed or the masses of those places. I travelled quiet a lot in my life, but I’ve never been in a country where you can watch houses growing, like mushrooms and see people asking there doctors over a video phone for the right medicine.

So for sure the big Chinese Dragon is consuming everything for the moment and gets bigger and bigger rapidly. The tragedy for now, the Chinese people don’t have time to reflect there life style. They just try to catch up with the speed and by the next fridge or so. It’s understandable, if you never had those things you must have them now. I don’t blame them for that, I grew up in the Eastern Block and also wanted to have certain things I got later when the wall came down. But once you have them (it takes a while by the way), you might find out that this helps only a little in life and then if you are bright enough you go back to your own roots.

In the end I produced the first work on naked Chinese people worldwide. There is no other project like this as far as I know. Also I found out, that Chinese people need to sleep and don’t work much harder or longer then others do. But what makes them so strong is the mass population, there is always someone waiting to go on, if one of the others gets tired.

 
Frank Rothe, Berlin, Germany 2007
  

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copyright: Frank Rothe | railway station Beijing I
railway station Beijing I
copyright: Frank Rothe | merry go round
copyright: Frank Rothe | Entering the forbidden city
copyright: Frank Rothe | Bus station
copyright: Frank Rothe | At night I
copyright: Frank Rothe | At night III
copyright: Frank Rothe | railway station Beijing I
copyright: Frank Rothe | Handbag
copyright: Frank Rothe | After dinner
copyright: Frank Rothe | Traffic I
copyright: Frank Rothe | At night II
copyright: Frank Rothe | Back side I
copyright: Frank Rothe | Crossing in the heat
copyright: Frank Rothe | Feeling naked
copyright: Frank Rothe | Female thief
copyright: Frank Rothe | Important place
copyright: Frank Rothe | Lampions
copyright: Frank Rothe | Lost
copyright: Frank Rothe | Railway station Bejing II
copyright: Frank Rothe | Red fish
copyright: Frank Rothe | Shanghai I
copyright: Frank Rothe | Shanghai II
copyright: Frank Rothe | Shanghai tourists
copyright: Frank Rothe | Soldiers standing still
copyright: Frank Rothe | Stairs
copyright: Frank Rothe | Traffic III
copyright: Frank Rothe | Street lights
copyright: Frank Rothe | Back side II
copyright: Frank Rothe | Traffic II
copyright: Frank Rothe | Underground
copyright: Frank Rothe | Waiting for Mao