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Concept, photography and text:
Rob van Hoesel
Jos Morree (Fine Books)
Die Keure (BE)
The Land of Promises tells the intimate and personal stories of those living by the regulations of China’s one-child policy. Between the years 1979 and 2015, China took an excessive approach towards a critical population growth. The consequences of the controversial regulations were enormous, in particular for hundreds of thousands Chinese girls who have been separated from their biological families and registered for adoption.
Photographer Youqine Lefèvre (BE) is one of those girls. In this work she portrays the journey of her adoption through the story of six Belgian families who travelled to China in 1994 to adopt girls, and relates it to a broader context and other stories. It consists of photographs Youqine took in China, archives from 1994, research based on writing of demographers and experts on the Chinese birth control policy, and the stories and testimonies told by those she met in China during her travels.
The Land of Promises is a work about the discovery of her origin country and an attempt to understand what led to the abandonment and international and transracial adoptions of countless young Chinese girls. The changes in their lives resonate upon this day and will continue to do so.
Youqine Lefèvre is a visual artist currently based in Belgium. After her study photography at the Graphic Research School in Brussels and at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey, she graduated with a master’s degree in Visual Arts at KASK / School of Arts in Ghent. Her work The Land of Promises allowed her, among others, to win the third prize of the Kassel Dummy Award 2020, to be selected for reGeneration4 at the Musée de l’Elysée, and to be shortlisted for the MACK First Book Award 2021 and Luma Recontres Dummy Book Award Arles 2021.
“In a number of ways, you could see The Land of Promises as an oral history of China that focuses on one specific aspect of its recent past and culture. Unlike usual oral histories, the amount of text is a lot smaller than those. But here, the added portraits and photographs flesh out parts that written oral histories mostly can’t get at.” (Jörg Colberg)