Nostalgia: Our First Photography Exhibition

*A link to the trailer (with English subtitle): http://v.qq.com/page/b/5/m/b03054fgr5m.html 

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Starting from today, my dad’s photographs depicting local old people’s lives are displayed for four days. Even though today was the first day and a Friday, when people had to work, I was glad seeing many people coming in to support this exhibition. As the chief curator, I spent two weeks planning how to make it perfect in finest detail. Finally, today, I got everything set up and ready receiving visitors.

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Both today and yesterday, my dad and I got an interview from local newspapers. We talked about our ideas about doing such an exhibition, which contains 45 photos, in 17 sets of stories. My dad has been visiting the villages around Siming Mountain, the mother mountain of Ningbo, on weekends for two years. No matter how bad the weather is, he goes to the villages as long as he is in Ningbo. Every weekend, he does not even know to which village he is heading prior to his departure. When he reaches the road where he has to decide, he randomly picks the place that he would like to go. In the villages, he takes pictures of an old person, has a conversation with him or her, and moves on to another. These conversations are usually short because most old people do not like to share their personal stories with strangers because they regard such experience as a scar that they would not like to touch these days. After going home, my dad prints these photos out and puts them in his bag. His bag contains all the photos that he has taken in all the villages because he does not know where he is going until the last minute. Carrying his heavy photo bag, he looks for the people in the photo with the help of the villagers. When he finally brings the photos to the people there, they are moved so that they are willing to talk about their lives like an old friend. He collects stories in this way.

For me as a high school students, I feel the necessity to spread these stories to the public. The old generation is unique to Chinese history because they have gone through all the happenings both before and after the establishment of the PRC. Such history has left unique imprints on them that the younger generation living in urban Ningbo could not even imagine. Even though I have read much from history books and novels, but the happenings in books seem far away. Reading the stories my dad wrote was the first time when I realized that history was so close to our lives. Unfortunately, most people born in 1990s, 1980s, and even 1970s are not aware this fact. In order to raise awareness, I feel the urgency to do such an exhibition, telling urban Ningbo dwellers, as well as foreigners, the stories of the ordinary that they have never heard of. Hopefully, these stories will change their mind to a certain extent.

We will do more exhibition in Ningbo this summer break at different locations. I will continue translating them and keep posting them in this WordPress blog. Next year, we are definitely going to publish a book telling these ordinary yet breathtaking stories along with photographs.

Yay! So excited!

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One thought on “Nostalgia: Our First Photography Exhibition

  1. Hi Emma, you have done such a great job in organizing such a great event! We are so proud of you! This is a good bridge to link the urban people with our tradition which seems vanishing and gone with those old people.
    Our theme is also to show the hidden stories of ordinary people, reflecting the hidden history of our hometown. Some stories looks like a scar in individual family, but they are actually a scar on our nation. While I bring the photo to the villagers as courtesy, most people regards me as their old friends and are willing to talk with me openly. Photo is only a bridge of friendship, as you can see many people there even won’t have a chance of taking pictures in their life. Photo help me to approach them, enter their home. But the only way to learn their stories, is not by giving the photo, but giving them my heart and showing my respect to these old people.

    Liked by 1 person

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