Jianghu (江湖), which literally translates to ‘rivers and lakes,’ is not easily explained in the Western lexicon. Chuqiao Liu’s photographs, though, are a visual exploration of the term’s spirit.
Liu, who is based in Guangzhou and Glasgow, has a unique style grounded in a modern interpretation of jianghu.
Nowadays, jianghu generally refers to a specific milieu and rebellious state of mind associated with Chinese wuxia stories.
Wuxia is a genre of film and fiction that primarily focuses on the martial arts; jianghu describes the historic, mythic, and sometimes criminal universe in which these stories take place.
However, the term also refers to a passiveness where legitimacy and law and order are concerned. Those in a jianghu state of mind also insist on unique social governance and/or believe in staying in touch with the grassroots of the community.
An important formative source for jianghu was the 14th century text Water Margin (水滸傳), about a group of noble outlaws who rebelled against a corrupt government.
Liu’s style evokes the very essence of jianghu by conveying the contrasts between life’s conventional rulebook and reality. Learn more about Chinese photographers by clicking the button below.