Guy Le Querrec at The Guardian:
This photo is an enigma. Even I can’t say for sure what’s happening. I didn’t know what I had taken at the time. It was only afterwards, when I developed the film, that I saw the handbag.
It was April 1984 and I was on assignment in China, which was just opening up to foreigners. I had no particular commission, though: I could shoot whatever I wanted. On this day, I was visiting a monastery at Xindu in the Sichuan province. There was a symbol on the wall that meant “happiness”. The place was full of Chinese tourists and the tradition was to stand 20 metres from the sign, then walk towards it with eyes closed and try to touch the centre of the four raised points.
As a photographer, I have always been interested in gestures – I was once described as someone who made arms dance. And now I found myself in front of this extraordinary ballet: a young man who has just touched the sign and a second, in a hat, approaching with his hand out. I remember the sensation of something moving, but I really don’t remember the handbag.