Photography Cinema

Chien-Chi Chang: AZMA

Image Maker
Chien-Chi Chang
Chien-Chi CHANG (b. 1961, Taichung, Taiwan) earned his BA from Soochow University in 1984 and an MA from Indiana University in 1990. He was a photojournalist for the Seattle Times and later the Baltimore Sun between 1991–1994. In 1995, Chang was elected to join Magnum Photos. His work has been published by leading international publications including New Yorker, National Geographic, TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine and GEO (France and Germany).

Chang manifests the abstract concepts of alienation and connection in his work. Chang’s investigation of the ties that bind one person to another was drawn on his own deeply divided immigrant experience first in the United States and later in Austria.
Place of Origin
In German with English and Chinese subtitles


Syria is no longer a story that we can define in a single place: there are the beaches and graveyards at Lesbos and Kos in Greece, and now a graveyard in İzmir, Turkey too. It is no longer a story we can arrive at and leave thinking we have defined its core. The Syrians, when they discuss it, simply call it azma, the crisis. And now it seems clear that azma may become permanent.

So the most rational approach for me (and perhaps all documentary makers) is to accept this new reality and redefine our stories. I immersed myself in the process: from Lesbos to the border, observing and documenting how the world seems to accelerate at the edge of the horizon; from Syria to the refugee camps in Turkey, embarking on the odyssey to the coast, making the boat journey to Greece, marching from Macedonia to Serbia to Slovenia to Austria, passing my home in Graz, and beyond.

The work not only measures human experience and how it changes over time, but also how political and other events reverberate in the region: the fall of Aleppo, the resurgence of Assad, Turkey’s battle with Europe and Russia, a polarized Europe towards the influx of refugees and immigrants… Each will and can be measured along the route.

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