Gallery of Fine Art Photography - Atlanta GA

dialogue

Zeng Yi – The Love of Father and Daughter

Private Enterprise in Communist China

Zeng Yi’s iconic 1982 image, The Love of Father and Daughter, depicts a tender moment between a man and his young daughter as he weaves baskets in the Shandong province of China. The girl and her dog snuggle against her father as he constructs a basket with reeds. Finished baskets line the background in a pleasing pattern of repetition that forms a kind of wall sheltering this happy trio from the rest of the world. A teapot and thermos wait on the left side of the frame, making the workplace seem even more domestic.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE
© Zeng Yi - The Love of Father & Daughter, 1982

© Zeng Yi – The Love of Father & Daughter, 1982

By choosing to focus tightly on the interchange between the three characters and eliminating the horizon and sky, Zeng creates a cozy, private world. The photographer seems to imply that at this moment, the family has all they need.
Changes in Chinese government policy were beginning to affect timeless pursuits, such as the creation and sale of local crafts. Under Communist rule, private business had long been outlawed, but beginning with Richard Nixon’s historic visit to china in 1972, the country began to slowly open to the outside world. President Jimmy Carter granted China formal diplomatic recognition on January 1, 1979.
In 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping led governmental reforms, which allowed for private enterprise and foreign corporations to begin operating in China. Before these important reforms, private business activity was considered to be the root of evil behavior—the so called “Capitalist tail”—which should be cut down by “revolutionary thought,” according to scholar Yingqui Liu, writing in her thesis, Development of Private Entrepreneurship in China.
Zeng Yi was aware of this political shift, when he made the photograph. In a recent lecture at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, he spoke of the change this picture represents. “In 1980s most peasants in the rural area began to benefit from the nation’s economic reforms. Peasants were free to sell their products freely in the market. This activity had been forbidden for many years and punishable before.”
The Love of Father and Daughter won a UNESCO Asian culture award in 1985, which generated some economic development for the region, as tourists and photographers came to the area, Zeng said.
More than 50 photographs by Zeng Yi were were exhibited from October 1, 2015 thru January 17, 2016 at the Carter Library and Museum. The People’s China: Village Life by Master Photographer Zeng Yi took viewers on a journey into the villages of China for a personal look at the people and how they live. Zeng Yi has spent a lifetime telling the story of the common people of China through his photography.
Now on view at Lumière is thoughtfully curated selection of these Chinese Village Life images
Additional information about Yi’s work, can be found on his Artist Page.
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