The SVA library recently added The Chinese Photobook: From the 1900s to the Present to our collection. Edited by Martin Parr and WassinkLundgren, the book was published by Aperture and accompanied by an exhibition of the same name.
Accomplished photographer and avid photobook collector Martin Parr first encountered the vast terrain of Chinese photobooks while researching The Photobook: A History, a cornerstone survey of the medium. At a secondhand book market in Shanghai, he came across a number of impressive and unfamiliar photobooks that revealed the deficit of Western accessibility to this rich history of art and culture. Language barriers prevented Parr from deeper inquiry at the time.
Some years later he returned to that same market, only this time with Ruben Lundgren, one half of the Beijing- and London-based Dutch photographer team WassinkLundgren. Lundgren was studying photography at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and shared Parr’s interest in Chinese photobooks. Equipped with Lundgren’s increasing knowledge of Mandarin, the two began amassing the collection of books that served as the foundation of this new publication. From the publisher’s description,
“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…[this] selection of books includes key volumes published as early as 1900, as well as contemporary volumes by emerging Chinese photographers. Each featured photobook offers a new perspective on the complicated history of China from the twentieth century onward.”
The Chinese Photobook features over 1,000 color images and includes accompanying texts and individual title descriptions by Gu Zheng, Raymond Lum, Ruben Lundgren, Stephanie H. Tung and Gerry Badger.
Mentioned earlier in this post, the SVA library also has the first volume of The Photobook: A History, as well as another Aperture photobook survey The Latin American Photobook, edited by Horacio Fernandez. The Latin American Photobook features 150 books from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela.
Aside from being a photobook collector and advocate, Martin Parr has published over thirty books of his own photography. We have quite a few at the library, including a reproduction of his first book Bad Weather, as well as the frequently referenced Common Sense and The Non-Conformists.