Matthias Messmer has spent more than two and a half decades traveling extensively in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Asia, to pursue his research interests. Messmer received an MA in International Relations from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Constance, Germany. Messmer discovered early his curiosity about the diversity of Lebenswelten. This curiosity has inspired him to combine the intellectual interests he developed in his academic career with his creative work in both photography and writing. A visual approach with a human angle has become a central element of his study of the world. Messmer’s images are mainly conceived in the tradition of social documentary photography, but often capture an atmosphere that transcends ordinary documentary photography. His recent interdisciplinary projects focus on Chinese cultural spaces, everyday cultures, geopolitics and Western images of China. He has reported about China, among others, for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung since more than a decade. His work captures the country’s ongoing changes through images and text.
Hsin-Mei Chuang 莊新眉, born to a mixed local Hakka and mainland Chinese family in Taiwan, has learned first hand since childhood of the richness and contradictions of the country’s unique history and cultural environments. She earned her MA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA) after studying at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, founded originally as "Central School of Party Affairs" by Chiang Kai-shek. Since her teens, she has been keen to discover the untold stories and everyday nuances of life beneath the surface of Chinese and Taiwanese cultures, colonial history and its legacy in Asia, intercultural exchanges and traditional communities in modern society. Besides working as a cultural researcher, she enjoys using her creativity for conceptual photography projects.
Messmer and Chuang co-authored the illustrated volume China’s Vanishing Worlds: Countryside, Traditions and Cultural Spaces (MIT Press, 2013). Messmer is also the author of Jewish Wayfarers in Modern China: Tragedy and Splendor (Routledge, 2012) and China: Schauplätze west-östlicher Begegnungen (Böhlau, 2007).
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