Wang Jinsong’s “Parents”

Posted in Art, China, Photography by Rollfilm on April 11, 2007

in Heilongjiang Province, China, in 1963. He graduated from what is now the Chinese Academy of Fine Art in 1987 with a degree in Chinese Painting. As a core member of the Cenozoic School, his works have been widely exhibited in China, Japan, Australia, Europe, and the United States. He currently teaches in the Fine Arts Department at Beijing Education University. [source]

Social phenomena have been a subject of concern in my work-I try to present people’s attitudes and experiences through the details of their surroundings. I began my career as a painter, often using the camera as a tool to study ideas for projects. In my first photographic series, “Standard Family,” I explored the results of the Chinese government’s one-child policy as it affected the younger generation, and in the process I observed the situations of old-age couples living by themselves. These people belong to the generation of my own parents and by photographing retired couples living in Beijing who are representative of different social classes, from workers to university professors, I began to better understand the past. Today’s Chinese families are quite different from those of the old days, when members of several generations lived together and shared the household duties. Among the people I photographed for the “Parents” series, the children had moved away and the couples seemed to enjoy their independence. In these pictures you see nothing of youth culture, such as posters of movie stars or pop singers, and rarely did I find portraits of political figures as you commonly see in earlier photographs (two couples I visited had hung portraits of Zhou En-lai). Today the old folks prefer to display scrolls of calligraphy, flowers they have grown, or their pet birds. By presenting them among their possessions, I hope to show not only differences of taste and social status but also the ways in which government policies have marked their lives. I try not to emphasize that point but those [in China] who see the work understand the meaning of these surface details. Wang Jinsong [source]

Wang Jinsong, No. 5 from the

Wang Jinsong, No. 20 from the

Wang Jinsong, No. 19 from the

Wang Jinsong, No. 11 from the 'Parents' series, 1998

Wang Jinsong, No. 2 from the 'Parents' series, 1998



2 Responses

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  1. Andrew Chiu said, on May 4, 2007 at 1:23 am

    Just wondering how I can get Wang’s phone number in Beijing. I’m actually a friend of his who’s lost contact with him since leaving Beijing in 2000 for the US.

  2. Phoebe said, on March 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Is there any way i could find out more about the ‘standard family’ series. I think its very interesting

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