Department of Art History
“Red and Expert”: Photographers at the Ming Tombs Reservoir Construction Project
Date: 14 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Time: 4-5:30pm (HKT)
Venue: Room 7.58, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU (room capacity: 40, first come first served)
Register for online participation: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8poMzeITT0Wlte-XimN6ZQ
This seminar presents a major case study from ongoing research into the aesthetics of early Mao era propaganda photography. The presentation will include an examination of representational strategies used by two photographers at the 1958 Ming Tombs Reservoir construction project to capture the social and political significance of the event in their construction landscapes. The photographs will be assessed according to three criteria used at the time in major periodicals about photography practice: conceptuality, artistic quality, and truthfulness. These terms help to describe how Maoist politics was put into practice for propaganda, as well as variations in the relative importance of different subject matter. By considering the written discourse around the photographs, I seek to contextualise how people were expected to engage with propaganda photography and, in turn, how photographers were expected to engage with the masses.