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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Tiananmen Square and Beijing Coma: Photographic influences

Ma Jian's novel, Beijing Coma (his story of the Tiananmen Square Massacre - the 20th anniversary is on June 4th this year) has many photographic influences, including some of the photography of the demonstrations, the hunger strikes and the massacre. The visual representation of Tiananmen tails off towards the end - photographers were beaten, films were confiscated and having a camera was generally considered a bad thing. There are some images on the internet, but not as many as you might expect.

A lot of commentary has been made on how photography should be more subtle and show the build up to events - but with Tiananmen, I think the actual images of what happened, of the shootings, the beatings the crushing under tank tracks carry much more power than anything more tangential, especially because there is relatively little of it.

More images are available here.

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