Li Yang


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404 NOT FOUND

Li Yang 李扬 was born in 1984 in a desert city called 404. Located in the Gobi desert in Western China, this city is nowhere to be found on any map. 404 was built in the 1950s, when China initiated its first nuclear weapons testing.

“404 was the first and the largest nuclear technology research base supporting nuclear bomb projects in China,” explained Li. “During its days, there were about 50,000 people living in this city. Just like other cities, it had all governmental departments — bureau of public security, of land, of public education and Intermediate People’s Court, etc. However, as opposed to other cities, the residential area of 404 was only 1 square kilometre. When the city was built, elites from all around the country were selected to move to 404. At that time, the city had the best nuclear scientists, technicians, chefs, teachers, and doctors.”

“I am the third generation of 404, and every scene in this series is related to my own experience. The scenes include my kindergarten, my primary school which was the same school my parents graduated from, our weekly public bathroom which was also an important social place for local people.” Li had to leave his hometown to attend college in Beijing. When he came back with his camera in 2014, he attempted to capture the contradictions between abandoned yet familiar empty places filled with memories.

Li graduated from China’s Southwest University of Science and Technology, majoring in Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HAVC) in 2007. Between 2007 and 2013, he designed the HAVC system of the nuclear power station in the China Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. Since 2013 he has been working as a freelance photographer based in Beijing. His photographic series “404 NOT FOUND” won the Best Photography Award at the 7th Dali International Photography Exhibition.

More information: liyangphoto.com