Real China in (a lot of) photos


Last week there was a truly fantastic photo shoot of the annual camel fair in Rajasthan, India, featured in the Boston Globe. The high quality of the pictures reminded me of another great exhibition currently being shown over at the China Institute Gallery in New York.

Humanism in China: A Contemporary Record of Photography,’ is a series of intimate portraits of both rural and urban daily life in China shot between 1951 and 2003. The original exhibit first opened in 2003 at the Guangdong Museum and remains the only such large-scale photography collection acquired by any museum in China. Its curators actually visited photographers in more than 20 provinces before deciding on 600 images by 248 photographers–out of a total of about 100,000. The China Institute Gallery is displaying a still-tighter set of 100 selected photos. A recent review of the show in the Wall Street Journal (‘One Hundred Chinese Pictures‘) points out that despite uniformity in the printing and presentation of these photographs, they still appear to offer wide-ranging content. It calls many of the images ‘genuinely moving.’

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And when I spoke to the China Institute’s Margery Newman, she told me the diversity of the exhibition could be attributed in part to the range in photographers who are both amateur and professional Chinese. She also corroborated the review with her personal enthusiasm for the exhibit, which she finds no less than ‘extraordinarily compelling.’

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