From the 1990s onwards, the (re)discovery of Chinese archives encouraged artists to develop a photography inclined to reinterpret iconic images, such as those of Chairman Mao. This is what Wang Tong (born in 1967 in Tonghua, Liaoning province) has endeavoured to do for his series “Reenactment”. Wang scrutinizes images of famous public appearances of the Great Helmsman: his visit to the rural areas of Henan province in 1927, his last conversation with Chiang Kai-shek in 1945 in Chongqing, and his historic swim in the Yangtze river near Wuhan in 1966 among others. Far from being mere pastiches, Wang offers anachronistic and imaginary portraits in which he stages himself disguised as Mao in everyday life settings of our time while literally re-enacting Mao’s gestures. This transformative aspect engenders a quality of déjà vu, while challenging the relevance of such images in contemporary times. In sum, “Reenactment” attests the significance given to the archive as a means by which forms of remembrance and historical knowledge are recovered and transformed.
View more of Wang Tong‘s work here.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic trilingual blog about photography and photographers in China.