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"Sleeping Chinese" in the eyes of a foreign photographer
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15:55, June 18, 2009

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Bernd is from Lemgo, a tranquil town in the north of Germany and he has long been fascinated by the outside world. Around 2002, he was first sent to work in Beijing, and after a short time moved to Shanghai.

Since then he has lived in China for a long time, he gradually saw another aspect of Chinese life and culture different from the clamor.

The accepting social attitude towards people sleeping deeply and soundly everywhere made him, a foreigner, realize that perhaps the China Story featuring only the economy and money was incomprehensive and unjust.

Therefore, he began to capture a different China with his camera, the placid, receptive and changeable China that fascinated him.

The global media reporting how fast China is developing, how rapidly its economy is growing and what a tense life the Chinese people live, has led the world to worry and even panic.


Bernd and his website.


Bernd, however, found that the Chinese are sleeping and showed to the entire world his discovery that goes against the mainstream view.

Sleeping in a newsstand, on a rockery in a park, by the computer, even while sitting on a stone by the roadside, leaning against stone railings with Lujiazui on the Bund in the background, lying on the bricks of a construction site, accompanying the pork in a butchers, or resting one's head on a pumpkin in a vegetable market, it seems that no one before Bernd "saw" the Chinese in this way.

On his website, Bernd divided the sleeping people into three kinds: "hard sleepers," "soft sleepers," and "group sleepers."

Those who sleep in hard and uncomfortable places can fall asleep in any circumstance.

In one of Bernd's ten most popular photos, there is a man in a uniform and peaked cap (a pair of red over sleeves on the arms) sleeping on a bench in a roadside park. What is especially funny is that this man just settles himself on the armrest, which is used to separate the bench and prevent people from lying down on it. Although his body is distorted into an S shape, it does not affect his deep and sound sleep. This man is a typical "hard sleeper."

Although those who sleep in soft and comfortable places can also sleep in any public place, they seem to be a little bit "fussy" and demand more comfort than "hard sleepers."

In a photo, one person lying on his back on cement is a typical "soft sleeper." The cement floor is undoubtedly hard, but he places a flattened can over his closed eyes to block out the sunlight. A salesman working in an aquatic products shop sleeps soundly in a huge red plastic bucket. Although large crabs are rattling nearby, the bucket is just like his cradle. Being fussy, this salesman is justified to be labeled a "soft sleeper."

A group of two or more people sleeping in the same place at the same time is called "group sleepers."

Sometimes it is really funny. For example, four men on a plane sleep at the same time, keeping their body straight without disturbing each other. The funniest is a photo in which two men sleep on each end of a seesaw in an amusement park. They have almost the same height and weight and therefore can exactly balance the seesaw. There is another photo of migrant workers sleeping on the roadside. In the photo, four adults and a child, who apparently are not a family, nestle closely against each other. Their relationship is really thought-provoking.

Bernd said that in China, people will freely satisfy their desires if they think they need to. If they are tired, they lie down anywhere and anytime and sleep. This shows the society's accepting attitude.

By People's Daily Online



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