During a long period of 8 years, photographer Justin Guariglia (National Geographic Traveler, PDN’s best under 30 in the year 2000), was able to build trust from one of the most reserved Budist communities, the monks at the Shaolin Temple in China. Usually, tourists don’t see the real monks, they only see students at the Temple dressed up to look like monks. This was the first time ever that the monks let a photographer to get a graphic documentation of their art that spans a large variety of kung-fu forms.
See the work, Shaolin Temple of Zen at the dedicated mini-site.
Typically when people think about kung-fu they think about fighting, but reality is something much deeper; it is something very spiritual, it is about enlightenment. It is about fusing the mind the body and the soul together as one, that;s what kung-fu is really about.- Justin Guariglia
The work was published few months ago by Aperture foundation in a book entitled “Shaolin Temple of Zen” and also is accompanied with a 99 images exhibition and videos that are traveling around the world until February 2012. Over at Popular Photography I found an interview with the recently appointed book publisher at Aperture, Lesley A. Martin, where she speaks about the editing work on this book.
This work reminded me of a book a read few months ago, American Shaolin, by Matthew Polly, describing his journey as the first USA American fellow who joined the Shaolin Temple to learn and practice kung-fu. I enjoyed the book, and I think mathew is a contributor of “Shaolin, Temple of Zen”.
In these images, Justin Guariglia has captured one of the last oases of pure, unaffected Chinese culture. This sumptuous book is a must for anyone whose imagination is captivated by the search for the edge of human boundaries in a distant land. Justin Guariglia’s photographs reveal an extraordinary culture dedicated to the pursuit of discipline and excellence – where mind and body are stretched to the extreme.”-Edward Burtynsky