on yang zhongzhen's works


Public Photos with Personal Ways

WU Hong


The word county has a double meaning in the Chinese society since it contains characteristics of both the city and rural areas. After 1949, some small began using an administrative based industrial structure which resulted in the establishment of many small factories and agricultural products. Workers in the factories became residents of the State Administrations and City & Village trade companies. These small counties started to become residential areas. Many local residents transferred the identification cards from farmerto county resident by working in these factories.These counties became more varied and urban as more farmers joined the factories from all over China. In this sense, these counties had city characteristics with rural social structure.

The counties also became centers of communication and information sharing, particularly important for the spread of information before the modern technology age.

For more than thirty years, Yang Zhongzhen used his camera as a tool to record thesocial activities that happened in these counties. 

The British Empire deeply affected Chinese culture during the 19th century. The British brought industrial materials, gold and antiques, animal and plant specimens and sketches to China. It was also during this time that paintings of Harbor cities, such as Guangdong, became popular. This period marks a time of cultural sharing and appropriation. 

At the end of 19th century, Shanghai’s Dianshizhai Pictorial became the first record ofsocial activities and people’s life through photography.

Yang Zhongzhen worked as a propagator in the county Cultural Communication Department, however he had no responsibility to promote Communism and could easily cut some pictures regarding politics, construction, culture and landscape from the People’s Dairy. 

Yang’s works not only contain news from mass media, but also express his personal interests. In fact, what he recorded provide a lot of data on the economic and cultural changes during that time period.