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Research Postgraduate Seminar

“Red and Expert”: Photographers at the Ming Tombs Reservoir Construction Project

Date: 14 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Time: 4-5:30pm (HKT)
Format: Hybrid
Venue: Room 7.58, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU (room capacity: 40, first come first served)
Register for online participation: click here


This seminar presents a major case study from ongoing research into the aesthetics of early Mao era propaganda photography. The presentation will include an examination of representational strategies used by two photographers at the 1958 Ming Tombs Reservoir construction project to capture the social and political significance of the event in their construction landscapes. The photographs will be assessed according to three criteria used at the time in major periodicals about photography practice: conceptuality, artistic quality, and truthfulness. These terms help to describe how Maoist politics was put into practice for propaganda, as well as variations in the relative importance of different subject matter. By considering the written discourse around the photographs, I seek to contextualise how people were expected to engage with propaganda photography and, in turn, how photographers were expected to engage with the masses.


Christie Wong is an MPhil candidate. She obtained her BA and MA in Western art history at University College London, where she developed her interest in exploring challenges to the nature of representation in the twentieth century, including conceptual art, performance art, and photography. Her previous work includes a study of humour as a critical technique in Allan Sekula’s early photo-essays.

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