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Luo Changwei's 'Da Qin Island' Reflects On Leprosy

Luo Changwei

First Posted: 03/12/2012 3:07 pm Updated: 03/13/2012 8:07 am

Leprosy is a condition that many of us believe has come and gone -- an unpleasant medical fate from another era. But for the people of Da Qin Island, China, leprosy is a reality that they must live with every day. In "Leprosy in China: a history," Angela Ki Che Leung writes, "Leprosy control became inextricably linked into the state-building policies of a succession of modernizing regimes throughout the twentieth century."

Da Qin Island was first set up by Chinese officials in 1924 as a colony to separate leprosy patients from the general population, but in 2011, the last 40 patients were transferred back to rehabilitation facilities in mainland China. Before the move, photographer Luo Changwei traveled to the isolated island for several months to document the patients and their way of life.

The images reveal a marginalized group still coping with life on the outside. Even when Luo tackles subjects that are not human, such as a clock or a forlorn pair of crutches, for example, the objects are imbued with a loneliness that is hard to fathom. Da Qin Island was, and perhaps still is, a place frozen in time and hidden from most of the world, yet Luo's narrative also includes the beauty of the locale, albeit one whose wondrous beaches act more as a barrier than a place to bask in the sun.

"Da Qin Island" by Luo Changwei is published by 88Books.

View a slideshow of some of the images below, and let us know what you think in the comments section. Are we past the point of isolating people out of fear or does this still happen? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Luo Changwei, "Da Qin Island from afar", Digital Photograph, 2010-2011, Courtesy of 88Books

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Filed by Andrew Reilly  |