Middle Kingdom (China 中国: literal translation)

"Socialism with Chinese characteristics"

These are the first studies for a project based in Beijing and its outskirting villages. The project to commence in January 2010 will attempt to capture the state of limbo that exists between the sprawling metropolis of new China and the rural stock of a crumbling old China. This state is the first stop for many dreamers seeking the glory and potential of the capital but also the desperate seeking employment far from home. Here is where the real battleground in China is unearthing itself, the growing pains of a culture that's long been suppressed; exploding into a new China undergoing it's puberty of confusion, rebelliousness, self doubt and ego development. The surfacing of the small almost insignificant schisms, lapses in a cultures visual landscape framed by the symbols of power of dominance that are beginning to or have lost their relevance.

I seek in this project to identify the visual fragments that are influencing a new Chinese. And in doing so identify and attempt to better understand the problems facing this readily misunderstood society.

All images copyright 2009 © Nathaniel McMahon

Vacated workers accomodation after closure of site
Wish I was a baller - remains of a bedroom after demolishion
Disturbed look on child face while ridding rooster
Still life
Chef's going through morning drill by head chef
Abandoned playground hen
Grave in clearing beside of the road
dreams of utopia
Abandoned playground badger
Heading home


A small minority of people in China are beginning to define Chinese middle class. This small minority for China represents a significant market driving the cities prices higher. A new class in Beijing are looking for ways to spend money, to look good and to separate themselves from their past, their poverty and especially from old China.  Speculation in retail and property has produced a city that expects utopia to be waiting just around the corner. This is a generation which has only witnessed the continuous and rapid growth of China, a growth that that has remained unchecked as it has never slumped or recessed but continued to rise to unimaginable heights.

A decorated tre outside a barber brothel.  This street runs for miles and is littered with brothels of various classes
Fashion shoot in an industrial complex with a gang of kids passing by, 798 Beijing China
Woman in back seat of care crying
Newly married couple Have a photo shoot in a industrial factory setting