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During China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the political agenda of the Communist party seeped into almost every aspect of the lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. So successful was the government’s endeavour that it profoundly influenced the country’s collective visual consciousness.
When opportunities came for picture making, both photographer and subject deliberately included symbols of the political narrative as a way to show allegiance with the socio-political movement as well as reverence towards Mao Zedong, its charismatic then leader’s god-like persona. Due to this pervasive trend, the images themselves also became a reflection and a vessel in the spreading of Cultural Revolution sentiments.
In these found photographs from the time, I’ve used red to digitally replace any original items in the images associated with propaganda. I hope to place focus on how propaganda has the power to alter a population’s collective mentality, as well as to change its visual language.
Sheila will be giving an artist talk at the Festival Hub (Paddington Town Hall) at 12:45pm on 5 May.
Sheila Zhao is a photographer based in China. She is interested in exploring different ways of image making and its capacity to connect to life’s different experiences. Her work has appeared in a variety of international online and print publications, as well as photo festivals.