Lost and Found

Mesmerizing snapshots of 20th century China, saved from oblivion
The practice of everyday life in the time of permanent revolution

China’s 20th century was no cake walk. Between British and Japanese imperialism, civil war, famine, and the Cultural Revolution, the country was as turbulent, and oppressive, as anywhere. But a recently assembled archive of photographs shows that even in the midst of tragedy, ordinary people found a way to get by.

China Lost and Found is an effort by Shanghai photographer Sheila Zhao to make sense of the innumerable disposed-of photos she salvages from flea markets in her hometown. That they have been abandoned by their creators matters. Because intimate family snapshots rarely are, we are left speculating on the fate of subjects who, as urbanites of some means, would almost surely have been affected by the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s.

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Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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