In the photographic series The Chinese, Liu Zheng was prompted by his distrust of the highly tendentious official version of history to create his own history, in the form of images. Liu’s development as an artist coincided with the ‘New Documentary’ generation and its trends: an approach distinguished by a more conceptual, more experimental mode of expression. The photographer’s interest shifted away from formal reporting and toward a more personal and unsparing view of China’s population and their living conditions. The fragile, decaying, unforgettably displayed, defiant bodies in his photographs are witnesses to shifting power structures. They are like human memorials to China’s recent history—and to China’s declining ancient traditions, which Liu Zheng’s photos protect from being forgotten amid all this rapid change.