Ziboy in the Flesh
26 Nov 2006
Last Monday I had the pleasure of meeting Wen Ling (温凌) of Ziboy.com in the flesh. Although I interviewed him once upon a time, we hadn’t communicated much since then. I was happy, then, to get an e-mail from him out of the blue saying he was going to be in town and did I want to meet up.
I was hoping that he was going to show up with a camera around his neck, because the only angle I could possibly recognize Wen Ling from would be the absolute profile shot. (He never posts any other photos of himself.) He didn’t show up with his camera out–and in fact I never even saw his camera–but he had no trouble identifying me.
Talking with Wen Ling, I found out he has a personal connection to Shanghai. He thinks of himself as a Beijinger, but he actually spent some of his early years in Shanghai, his mother’s hometown. He even understands quite a bit of Shanghainese. Still, he wouldn’t want to live here. Beijing is his home.
There was one point in our conversation which, to me, made Wen Ling feel distinctly non-Shanghainese in his outlook. He told me he no longer works as a photojournalist, even though it paid well and he really enjoyed it. He quit the job because what he wanted most was to pursue his art. As a photojournalist, he simply never had time for it.
I know this type of person exists in Shanghai too, but they seem so marginalized here. Somehow in Beijing pursuing art is just natural…