By Michael Evans
An exhibition at Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery this month featured the photography of Zhang Yaxin, who during the Cultural Revolution was tasked by Jiang Qing (Mrs Mao and Gang of Four member) with documenting the Eight Model Operas in detailed, vibrant color.
As the centerpiece of the drive to create a new proletarian culture, the revolutionary-themed operas (and those who worked on them) had resources at their disposal unimaginable to the majority of Chinese, as Alyssa Coppelman notes in Slate:
The normal allotment of Kodak color film per photographer at Xinhua News Agency was three rolls per year. Zhang had unlimited access to film and used dozens of rolls each time. He also used one of three available Hasselblad cameras (Jiang Qing and another model opera photographer used the other two).
An extended gallery of Zhang’s photographs is available at Photography of China.