Yang Xiaoguang – My Best Friend
I have been trying to write for three days but every time I start to type I break down in uncontrollable grief. How do you start to honour such a unique man. Those of you who knew him will understand.
Many I am sure have already written of Yang’s great achievements in life. He was indeed a remarkable man. This however is a personal testament to my best friend. I had only known Yang for four years but in that time he had become like a twin brother, we had planned to grow old together. I was never more content than when I was in his company, always laughing, always talking about new and exciting ideas and always happy. I have lived and travelled throughout the world but can honestly say I respected no other as much as Yang.
To me his greatest skill was always with people. I remember on a trip to Bangladesh he was as comfortable talking to a rickshaw puller as he was an ambassador. He truly believed all men were equal, whatever their race or position and most importantly he treated them all the same, with kindness, with respect and with a glint in his eye and a witty comment that made everyone laugh.
He was also a truly skilful manager and an inspirational teacher. Anyone who spent a day in his office would remember the constant phone calls and stream of people knocking on his door with problems. I never saw Yang angry, he would deal with each one with sympathy and then come up with a solution. People did things for Yang not because they felt it their job or duty but because they wanted to.
If wealth is measured in happiness then Yang died an exceptionally wealthy man. My greatest regret is that he can no longer share that wealth with all of us who knew him. However As Thomas Campbell wrote, ‘To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die’ and Yang’s spirit will always live in me.
We miss you Yang.
MA Blog entry
It is with immense sadness that we report the sudden death of Professor Yang Xiaoguang, Dean of Dalian College of Image Art and founder of the Photo MA programme. Yang was killed in a car crash in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal on the 7th October. Yang died in the way he lived, enjoying life to the full.
Yang was brought up during the Cultural Revolution in China during which time he was banished to the countryside. Returning to Dalian in the post Mao era he took a job as a technician in Dalian Medical University where he was to work for the rest of his life. Learning English by himself he took advantage of a scholarship to America in the early 80’s where he first started to study photography, completing an MA in Visual art at Columbia Pacific University. Returning to Dalian he started what was then only the second University Photography BA programme in China and over the next twenty years grew it to be the most respected department in China and quite possibly the largest department in the world. He was visiting scholar at University of California Berkeley from 1988-1990 where he first developed an interest in documentary film making. A passion that saw him travel the world and develop film making into the University programmes. In his life he published eight books and countless articles, he was hugely respected throughout the Chinese and international photography community and leaves a large hole in global photographic education.
Though greatly respected for his achievements however Yang’s utmost quality was his energetic charismatic personality. He was a shining example of greatness in every respect. Always positive, never too busy to deal with the smallest request from anyone, whatever their position, nationality or need and kind, exceptionally kind to everyone who knew him. He was never short of ideas and answers to the numerous problems that faced him. A true ambassador to China and to Photography.
We will all miss him enormously.
尽管他的成就已经使人望尘莫及，而杨晓光先生最为突出的优秀特质在于它充沛的活力、感召力、和人格魅力。他在各个方面都是我辈的光辉典范。他从不因为繁忙而拒绝任何人哪怕是最小的请求，而是永远积 极帮助，不论他人的地位、国籍、也不在乎是何种需求，他都和善、万般关怀地对待所有认识他的人。对于问题，他总会找出答案，提出观点。他是中国摄影与国际 交流真正意义上的一位友好使节。
It’s been a harrowing two days but all went smoothly. I spent most my time with Xiao Bing and Wang Jingchun both of whom are making good progress. Xiao Bing is recovering quickly, he has a minor neck injury and cuts and bruises but should be back to normal in a week or two. Wang Jingchun is more serious, still in ICU but stabilising. Both will be flown back to China later today.
I went with Yang’s wife, Chang He and a delegation from the University to see his body and carry out a series of Chinese rituals for the dead. I showed Yang’s wife the facebook site and all the messages you all sent for which she was very grateful. There is a big festival in Nepal at the moment and so all the paperwork was not yet complete for a cremation. Also Yang’s wife was undecided whether she wanted to bring the body back to China for burial. The Chinese consul in Kathmandu has been extremely helpful in sorting these matters out. She will remain until all is finished.
On the trip I also learned from those in the van at the time the full story of the event. They had hired a van with a driver to go on a trip. Presumably because of the festival the driver had not slept for two days. He fell asleep at the wheel and collided with an oncoming truck. Yang was sleeping on the back seat with his head against the window. Thankfully he was killed instantly and would not have known anything about it. Wang King Chun who was on the middle seat also on the driver’s side, was fortunately awake which gave him a split second to move out of the way and save his life. The driver was also killed instantly.
Many thanks for all your messages I will continue to pass them on to Yang’s family. His son has now returned from Australia and will be in Dalian for the next few weeks. I would also like to express immense thanks to Chang He who has worked tirelessly for his class mates and Yang’s family.
With best wishes to you all,
Professor Yang and Dave Clark were visiting artists at Chobi Mela IV (November 2006). Yang gave a talk on “Photographic Education in China” at Chobi Mela IV. During his visit he set up many links with practitioners from other parts of the globe to Dalian, which included Rupert Grey (UK), Norman Leslie (Australia), Robert Pledge (USA/France), Violet Valdez (Philippines) whom he met at the festival.Show