The Chinese Photobook reveals much about China itself, and the country’s dramatic twists and turns during the last 150 years. In the last decade there has been a major reappraisal of the role and status of the photobook within the history of photography. Revisionist histories have added enormously to our understanding of the medium’s culture, particularly in places that are often marginalized, such as Latin America and Africa. However, until now, only three Chinese photobooks have made it onto historians’ short lists.
Yet China has a fascinating history of photobook publishing, and Parr/Aperture’s exhibition The Chinese Photobook revealed for the first time the richness and diversity of this heritage. Divided into six historical sections, it both delighted and engaged photobook enthusiasts with the excitement of discovery. Based on a collection compiled by Martin Parr and Beijing- and London-based Dutch photographer team Wassink Lundgren, The Chinese Photobook embodies an unprecedented amount of research and scholarship, and includes accompanying texts and individual title descriptions by Gu Zheng, RaymondLum, Gerry Badger, Stephanie Tung, and Ruben Lundgren.