The Far & Near 2022 Holiday Gift Guide!
Gift ideas from Chinese visual artists for photographers, bookworms, and friends of all stripes
Happy holidays from Yan, Beimeng, and Charlotte!
As the holidays approach, it's now our annual ritual to prepare a handpicked gift guide featuring our favorite photobooks, magazines and zines that we discovered in the year gone by. These selections are works mostly by independent Chinese artists and collectives that, in addition to being great gift ideas for your loved ones, give back by helping support the artists’ work and livelihoods.
We’d also like to use this opportunity to say thank you, our readers — whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or recently joined our growing community. Your interest in learning about China from local perspectives drives us to bring everyone better- and the lesser-told work, highlight perspectives that hold the visual industry accountable, and curate a diversity of stories that imbue the community with life and vitality. We feel very grateful and motivated going into 2023.
If you’d like to help us continue, please consider becoming a paying member of Far & Near. Your support is critical to our sustainability. If you know a friend or family member who may also enjoy our newsletter, give the gift of Far & Near and help us spread the word!
*All gifts below are bilingual (Chinese/English) unless otherwise indicated.
Open Sesame 4: Staying Alive
“Open Sesame” is a magazine “dedicated to the wild and wonderful world” of Taobao, the online shopping platform that is essential to life in China. With the theme “Staying Alive”, inspired by the collective experience of this 3rd year into the pandemic, the hot-off-the-press 4th issue explores everything related to “survival”, from airbag suits that protect the elderly from accidental falls (pictured above) to scammy magic medicines that claim to be everything from canine repellents to cure-alls for left-ear tinnitus. With its playful tone and colorful design, “Open Sesame” offers a unique perspective on the fascinating world of consumerism and online visual cultures in China.
€14 | Buy from Athenaeum Bookstore
¥100 | Buy from Weidian
Be Water Journal
“Be Water Journal” is an annual bilingual magazine about innovation and sustainable living. The 2022 issue, published in November, explores human-nature relationships through works by Chinese and international artists, whose choice of topics range from ecological art to the human impact on whale songs. The Journal is available through independent bookstores in major cities in China. Check out this WeChat post to see if there’s a stockist near you.
¥180 | Buy from Weidian
Napping Dog by 214
214, who we recommended in our first issue, is the pseudonym of a photographer who lives in a small town in Guizhou province in southwestern China. His photographs of Guizhou are surprising delights, capturing an interplay with nature. “Napping Dog”, published by the indie photobook publisher Jiazazhi, features many beautifully mundane moments and will (guaranteed) bring back childhood memories.
€45 | Buy from Jiazazhi (€200 | Buy the Special Edition)
¥300 | Buy from Taobao
I, Celine Liu by Liu Silin/aka Celine Liu
Photographer Liu Silin, as fictional character Celine Liu, inserts herself into photos with celebrities and historical figures such as Frida Kahlo, Diana Spencer and Andy Warhol. While the project deals with weighty questions such as the circulation and consumption of images in our times, the book itself is extremely entertaining to flip through—a perfect gift for Cindy Sherman fans!
€47 | Buy from La Maison de Z
¥280 | Buy from Taobao
Watering My Horse by a Spring at the Foot of the Long Wall by Xiaoxiao Xu
Chinese-born, Netherlands-based photographer Xiaoxiao Xu traveled along the Great Wall in several roadtrips adding up to 25,000 kilometers, documenting the weathered walls and towers as well as the people who live in their shadow. Through her beautiful and subtle images, Xu captures the remnants of traditions and rites kept alive, and moments of stillness in a fast-changing society.
€32 | Buy from the Eriskay Connection
Walked and Walking by Li Wei
[In Chinese only] Photographer Li Wei’s self-published photo book “Walked and Walking” is endearing and ambitious at the same time. With 130 images and long personal fieldnotes, this pocket-sized book lays out more than a decade’s work portraying people and environments in Xinjiang, the Three Gorges Dam region along the Yangtze, and Inner Mongolia, the province where he was born and raised.
¥100 | Buy from Weidian
Comics, zine-making, and prints
The South Park by gantea
“The South Park” is the debut full-length comic book of Urumqi-born, Beijing-based comic artist gantea. The book is a surreal narrative loosely based in her hometown: two friends wandering in a soon-to-be demolished park unexpectedly unravel an urban mystery. Anyone who’s experienced leaving home and returning (to find it changed) will resonate with the subtle nostalgia and melancholy in gantea’s comics. With a velvet cover and tear-away panels, the book is intricately designed by the Ningbo-based indie comic book publisher O.Q Comics.
$28 | Buy from Paradise Systems
Book Book by Chang Yuchen and Hyon, Myungah
Feeling inspired? We have something to spark the creativity of your aspiring zine-maker friends. “Book Book” offers hands-on instructions that walk you through the basics of bookbinding which, it argues, is not just a technique but also an art. Published by DREAMER fty, the independent publishing project of abC, art book in China.
$28 | Buy from Printed Matter (English version)
¥120 | Buy from Weidian (Chinese version)
Li Yushi prints
We featured photographer Li Yushi’s work in our very first issue, highlighting how her photographs challenge the dominant male gaze. Her work has since gone on to win several international accolades, including selection to the 2022 Foam Talents. You can now buy one of her editioned prints, available in various sizes.
Prices from £500 to £6,800 | buy from Hi~noon
Who we are:
Yan Cong is formerly a photojournalist currently pursuing a research MA in new media and digital culture in Amsterdam.
Beimeng Fu is a video journalist based in Shanghai. She is a lover of languages and documentaries.
Ye Charlotte Ming is a journalist and visuals editor covering stories about culture, history, and identity. She’s based in Berlin and working on a book about her hometown’s German colonial past.
Writers: Beimeng Fu, Yan Cong, Ye Charlotte Ming; Copy editor: Krish Raghav
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