Lost in Transition

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2005, 12:00am

The Economist Gallery

Ends Sept 24

The way mainland cities such as Shanghai and Beijing are booming, they may soon be indistinguishable from other cosmopolitan cities.

But in a remote part of western China, Hong Kong-based photo-grapher Kris Vervaeke has found an area that's remained largely unchanged for centuries. Belgium-born Vervaeke's second exhibition, Lost in Transition, highlights life in a once important Silk Road trading hub.

The people are mainly Uyghurs (along with Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uzbek minorities) and mainly Muslim. In the town centre is the Id Kah mosque (built in 1442), around which merchants and locals haggle over camels, sheep, carpets and knives.

'Kashgar is so far away and totally different from the rest of China,' says Vervaeke. 'They've forgotten to develop this region. It's grown up much slower or not all.'

Fresh Concrete (left) shows a big new road - with a lone cyclist riding down the middle. 'The [government] show they care by building the road,' he says. 'But there's little use for it since there are hardly any cars.'

Another shot shows a shopkeeper standing by his only product: rows of the same hat, the style of which hasn't changed for years.

'It feels like Kashgar is missing the boat,' Vervaeke says. 'They're lost in transition.'

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