Xu Yong – Negatives
Under the impact of the reformation efforts in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, student protests formed up in China in the spring of 1989. A central meeting place was the Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, which was permanently occupied from mid-May. The numerous international press present for the state visit of Gorbachov made the democracy movement and their demands known worldwide.
On 3 and 4 June the Chinese military slammed the protests down violently and bloodily. Official figures on the number of victims do not exist, with estimates of 2,600 dead and 7,000 injured. To date, the events that were known in the West as “Tiananmen Square Massacre” are played down as “incident of June 4” in Chinese parlance.
The photographer Xu Yong, then 35 years old, was in 1989 among the protesters and has captured with his camera the tumultuous scenes on celluloid. For 25 years he outsourced the negatives in Yong’s Archives until he published them in a book, 2014. The book reproduces the color in negative form; only through the color reversal function of the mobile phone or tablet, can the images be deciphered.
To date, the Chinese censors prevent distribution of the book. Only a few copies have found their way abroad, but most of them were destroyed by the Chinese customs. This edition published by Verlag Kettler takes this into account and makes the book finally available to a wider audience.
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