The Emanuel Megersa photo series A Place beyond the river, was taken during a trip to two villages in Guǎngxī autonomous region in the south of China, captures the contrast of the diverging lifestyles of locals and visitors. The region is characterized by being home to the largest minority population of China and the beauty of its natural scenery.
As more and more people gravitate towards life in modern metropoles, life in rural areas continues. In some villages tucked away in remote areas it can seem as though time has stopped. These places serve as the ideal basis for reveries about simpler lives in balance with nature. This romanticized idea of rural life, in turn, attracts domestic and foreign travelers alike and has been highly capitalized on. Far from being the untouched places of our imagination, they have evolved into a sort of open air museum, in which life is ordinary on the one hand, extraordinary on the other. Ordinary for those village inhabitants who go about their daily lives. Extraordinary for the travelers who are attracted by the prospect of catching a glimpse of centuries-old ways of life – even if at times it is only part of a maintained spectacle.
For us too, traveling to this part of the country was led by the desire to get away from mainstream tourism. However, it quickly became clear that we were just as much part of it as all the other travelers led by the same desire.