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Élisa Haberer

Plongeurs par Élisa Haberer

“Plongeurs” is extracted from the project “1.3 Billion Athletes”, the major report by Élisa Haberer on sports in China carried out in 2007/2008, before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. To explore the world of Chinese sports and tell the story of a country hosting the Olympics for the first time through this lens, Élisa Haberer traveled across China for fourteen months. This ambitious project, supported by L’Équipe magazine, was widely published in a special issue on August 2, 2008.

In the Kunming sports center in Yunnan Province, there is a swimming pool built only 20 years ago, but which seems to belong to another era. There, children aged 4 to 10 defy gravity from diving boards of dizzying heights. Among them, Jiang Feng Xiao Wen, 6 years old, is about to perform a double somersault from a 5-meter platform.

Élisa Haberer’s ambition is to capture the details that both trivialize and emphasize the differences in her photographs. This project was born from her desire to keep a record of what she observed and felt in China. In 2008, an Olympic year when the whole world was focusing on the host country, she saw the perfect opportunity to dive into Chinese society. For her, sport serves as a wonderful vector to cross geographical, cultural, social, and political borders, even if it is just a pretext in this context. Each image she captures tells a small story that contributes to painting a portrait of contemporary China. During her stay in Kunming, while searching for the disabled swimmer Qian Hongyan, she discovered a striking place that became one of the emblematic subjects of her project.

Élisa Haberer is a French photographer specializing in reportage and cultural documentation. Having lived in Beijing for six years, she has an in-depth knowledge of Chinese society. Her work often aims to capture the nuances and details of daily life, revealing the hidden stories behind each image. Her passion for cultural exploration and her talent for visual storytelling have made her a respected figure in the world of documentary photography.