Lieven's Blog

The strange and prejudice gave way to a spark of attention… (Jan Hoet)

Click on the images of 2011 to enlarge them


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The Kite

I was standing with my son on the old Zhong Hua city gate in Nanjing, China. It was a rather cold day and that afternoon there was only one more visitor on the gate. The man was playing with one of his kites. He has a passion for kites and he told me that he enjoys building them. The one shown here consists of 250 separate pieces. Playing with kites is an old tradition in China and I think almost every Chinese boy or girl has played with it during their childhood. The oldest records of the use of kites is dated back to the Warring States period (475-211 BC).

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The Lincoln memorial and the power of words...

It was one of my night walks with my camera. At 4:30 AM I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial. It was a special sight but it also looked familiar. The memorial is something most of us have seen so many times on TV and in movies. However besides the fact that this memorial was build to always remember Abraham Lincoln, it is also a place where several important historical events took place. One of the most remarkable is the great speech by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963, “I have a dream.” Another impressive moment is the (to some extend) fulfilment of that dream when in 2008, the first African American president, Barack Obama, gave his impressive inauguration speech.

In some way this place is a lot about great leaders and the power of their oratory skills. Inside the memorial, left and right of the statue of president Lincoln, are two of his speeches engraved in the wall. Probably the most famous of the two is the Gettysburg Address of November 19, 1863. It is remarkable what happened that day. He was “only” the second speaker after Edward Everett, a famous politician and a great orator. Everett spoke for about two hours. Afterwards it was Abraham Lincoln’s turn. He spoke just about two minutes. Unfortunately today almost nobody remembers the content of the speech of Mr. Everett or even who he was. However, the few sentences Lincoln used were so powerful that even more than two hundred years later people still remember it and refer to it. Edward Everett was also impressed by the concise speech and he wrote to Lincoln:” I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

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The Marriage

In the garden of the main temple in Tokyo a newly married couple is patiently waiting while their picture is taken. The silence and beauty of the temple and the beauty of the couple with their traditional cloths created a peaceful atmosphere. The photographer and his assistants spend lots of time to put every detail into position. I was observing the event for more than an hour and it was interesting to see how everything about the photo shoot was done in an elegant and efficient way.

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The Monk

I saw this monk in a Buddhist temple in Taipei, Taiwan. I wasn’t sure if he was praying or resting or sad or angry. His body language only shows that he wanted to be detached and alone in the midst of the crowd.


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The Clerk

This image is a bit bizarre. It's difficult to get an idea of what is happening. We don't really have a "template" in our head to decode it. Actually it is a quite random situation. You see a clerk carrying incense sticks. He is wearing a mask, probably because he is a bit sick and he doesn't want to infect others. This situation only existed for a moment. But now that it exist people tend to look rather long to the picture… in search for meaning.

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Dong Tai Road

A typical scene of a vendor in front of her shop at Dong Tai Road in Shanghai. Every shop is loaded with real and fake antique. The area has a unique atmosphere. Although Shanghai is a very busy
and fast place, Dong Tai Road is slow and peaceful. You can walk around and watch local people patiently waiting for customers to come around. Interaction with the shop owners is via bargaining only.

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Sun Yat-sen

Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the first president of China. He played an important role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. The picture shows his statue in the center of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province. In front of him is now an enormous flat screen showing 24h advertisements. He wanted to reform China and make it a modern state. Now it seems like he looks at one aspect of modern China every day.

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Ji Ming Si Temple

The first time I went to Nanjing in 1995, my wife brought me to the Jiming Si Temple. The temple has a long history that goes back to 527 AD. Nanjing is a large and busy city with over 8 million habitants but the temple area is a quite area were you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. It became my favourite place in Nanjing. Every time I'm in Nanjing I try to go there.
My Chinese family went to pray in the temple when my wife was pregnant of our son. They prayed that this time the pregnancy would be successful. When our boy was five years old we brought him for the first time to this nice place and told him the story of how his godmother and his grandmother came to pray from him. He understood that it was his time to say thank you to the spirits for their help.

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