Programs & Events
Li Zhensheng Lecture: Rare Photographs of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
The staff of the Heilongjiang Daily newspaper criticize Luo Zicheng, the leader of the committee work group of the Provincial Communist Party, claiming that he follows “the capitalist line” and “opposes the revolutionary mass movement”; his dunce cap announces his “crimes” - Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China - August 25, 1966
Photograph by Li Zhensheng (Contact Press Images)
September 16 - October 9, 2009
Lobby of Ernie Pyle Hall, School of Journalism
October 6, 2009
Lecture by Li Zhensheng
7:30pm, Ernie Pyle 220
Reception (open to all)
8:30pm, Ernie Pyle Lounge (on 1st floor of Ernie Pyle Hall)
EASC and the School of Journalism will bring photojournalist Li Zhensheng to campus for a viewing of a collection of photographs from his Red-Color News Soldier exhibit documenting the Cultural Revolution, a period of modern history that has been largely hidden from the public eye both within China and abroad.
Li, a photojournalist living in the northern Chinese province of Heilongjiang during the revolution, managed, at great personal risk, to hide and preserve more than 30,000 negatives during the 10-year period of the Cultural Revolution. He made images as a party-approved photographer for the Heilongjiang Daily. This body of work is the only known existing photographic documentation of the Cultural Revolution.
The exhibit will be available for viewing in the lobby of the School of Journalism for four weeks from September 16 to October 9. Li will deliver a lecture on the photographs the evening of October 6, followed by a reception. All events are free and open to all.
This event is sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center and the School of Journalism, with additional funding provided by the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs; the Robert and Avis Burke Lecture Series, Department of the History of Art; the IU Art Museum; and the Department of Communication and Culture.
Li Zhensheng was born into a poor family in 1940 in Dalian, Liaoning Province. His mother died when he was two years old and his father worked as a cook on a steamship, then as a farm laborer. As a teenager, Li won a coveted position to study cinematography at the Changchun Film Institute in Jilin, only to see the department converted to the more socially “useful” one of photojournalism. After graduation, Li joined the party newspaper, Heilongjiang Daily, in Harbin in northeastern China as a photographer in 1964, just before the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. To gain easier access to the chaotic events of the decade, he formed his own rebel group and even sewed his own armband. He would remain with the large provincial newspaper for nineteen years. He moved to Beijing with his wife and two children in 1982 to undertake a 10-year teaching career at the journalism department of the International Political Science Institute.
Li Zhensheng’s 2003 chronicle of the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) Red-Color News Soldier: A Chinese Photographer's Odyssey Through the Cultural Revolution, co-authored with Robert Pledge and Jacques Menasche, and published by Phaidon in 2003, has been translated in six languages and received that year the Overseas Press Club of America’s “Olivier Rebbot Award” for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad in Books. An exhibition of his images from the Cultural Revolution is still touring major European cities, and other parts of the world.
Li continues to lecture extensively about his work, including in China. The first retrospective of his work in his native country took place in Hong Kong in the summer of 2009. He commutes between Beijing and New York City. His collection of photographs has been represented worldwide by Contact Press Images since 1999.