Scholarly Workshop: China Through Two Photographic Books
Wednesday, 20 April 2022
You will receive a Zoom link upon registration.
Registration is limited to 20 participants.
A workshop designed for scholars, students and curators of Asian art and photography.
This workshop will examine two photographically illustrated books on China: John Thomson’s Illustrations of China and Its People (1873-74), and Lang Jingshan’s (or Long Chin-san) catalogue, Exhibition of Pictorial Photography (1939). Though both books are apart in time and purpose, they are similar in using photography and text to depict China as a culture and concept at different geopolitical moments. Thomson’s book appears at a moment shortly after the Opium Wars and colonisation of Hong Kong, and seeks to examine a newly visible China through its people, culture, sights, and institutions. Over sixty years later, Lang Jingshan’s catalogue depicts China during the Sino-Japanese conflict to an international audience, and uses the subjects of Chinese landscape, women, and culture to frame an aestheticized vision of the nation-state. By comparing the two books, we will consider how each conceptualizes China: in narrative and sequencing, persistent motifs and symbols, and through visual systems and strategies.
The following materials will form the basis of discussion in the workshop – click on the links below to access. Registrants are asked to familiarise themselves with these in advance.
Image: John Thomson, “Peking Peep Show,” from Illustrations of China and Its People, (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1874), vol. 4, plate 27.