a cyber-habitat of

Jingtian Zong


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CHINA: SOME FORGOTTEN MEMORIES (2020-2021)


#found images, #historical archive, #socialist China





China: Some Forgotten Memories (2021) is a series of photo albums composed of found images printed on transparent film sheets, where human body parts are erased. It is an investigation into who is forgotten and who is remembered in the People’s Republic of China’s turbulent, tortuous, and forgetful history, as well as a paradoxical memorial to the forgotten. It does not intend to be historical nihilism nor another harsh yet facile (usually western-centric) criticism on China’s state-controlled written history (if they do not refer to the same things). Instead, it acknowledges and aims to deconstruct the state-controlled writing by assembling underrepresented historical photos to construct, with critical thinking and humor, an alternative narrative. Putting under the spotlight first the grand generational amnesia of certain historical events, China: Some Forgotten Memories attempts to evoke the audience’s memory of those events, especially the details, without which history will not not complete.

Nobody in the Sea of Red I and II, two photo albums with the appearance of family albums, re-narrate PRC’s two critical decades – the Land Reform and the Great Leap Forward (1952-1962), and the Cultural Revolution (1967-1977) in a non-chronological but imaginative order.

Little Red Book, a keychain photo album (nowadays usually for fans to carry photos of their idols in Asian fandom), succeeds the spirit of the people carrying the Little Red Book 红宝书 (officially, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung or 毛泽东语录) in the 70s, and enables you to carry along portrait photos of the eight great PRC prime ministers, among which faces of two (Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang) are erased.

Exhibited in the group exhibition Unlinked at NYU Shanghai, April 202






Photos in these albums are taken by Cartier Bresson, Jacquet Francillon, Shikashige Haraikawa, Jiang Shaowu, Li Zhensheng, Wang Jing, Weng Naiqiang, Xiao Zhuang, Zhang Yaxin, and many more photographers whose names could not be found.

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