EXHIBITION: Beijing Silvermine 北京银矿 by Thomas Sauvin

On 10/12/2013 by Site Default

Coming soon in January, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art presents Beijing Silvermine, a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decades following the Cultural Revolution.

Since 2009 Beijing-based collector Thomas Sauvin has amassed, edited and archived more than half a million photographic negatives destined for destruction in a recycling plant on the edge of the city. It was here that Sauvin encountered a man by the name of Xiao Ma who stockpiles negatives, x-rays, compact discs and other detritus to melt down and filter for their silver nitrate content intended to be sold to laboratories. Recognising a rare chance to rescue abandoned memories, Sauvin struck up a deal to buy these photographic negatives by the kilo. This ‘silvermine’ of anonymous subjects and vernacular photography styles covers a period of roughly 20 years, from 1985 to 2005.

Beijing Silvermine at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art presents a selection of photographs from this extraordinary archive curated by Thomas Sauvin that explore universal themes of love, leisure, birth, youth, happiness and the subtle changes – both in domestic settings and in the wider public realm – that the economic opening to the West brought into ordinary Chinese people’s lives.

...the pictures are compelling. It is hard not to wonder what became of these smiling families, serious young men and perturbed-looking infants.
– The Guardian, 2013

There is the refrigerator series: as more Chinese households began acquiring refrigerators in the late 1980s, women posed with their new appliances. And the Marilyn Monroe series, showing posters of the blond bombshell inside people’s homes…It’s about life
— The New York Times, 2013

Beijing Silvermine  北京银矿
11 January – 22 February 2014
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
181-187 Hay St, Sydney NSW 2000

Opening Launch: Saturday 11 January, 2pm – 4pm
To be launched by Linda Jaivin, novelist, writer, translator and Visiting Fellow, Australia National Universityes, showing posters of the blond bombshell inside people’s homes…It’s about life
— The New York Times, 2013



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