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In photographer Zhang Xiao’s images of the Shehuo festival, an ancient celebration still observed in parts of northern China during the Lunar New Year, rural life comes alive with something altogether more fantastical.
Villagers dressed as cranes, roosters and mythical lions pose for portraits standing amid crops or in fallow farmland. Costumed performers parade past brick houses against hazy backdrops, the eyes of their masks seemingly lost in thought. In a harvested wheat field, a group of almost a dozen men line up to hold aloft a colorful dragon puppet.
In his new book “Community Fire,” Zhang said he wanted to capture the surreal “disconnect” between people’s everyday lives and the mythical personas they assumed.