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Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Cliches of Chinese Photography

Xiaolu Guo's first chapter of 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth opens with a picture of Mao - one of the great cliches of Chinese photography (and again, there are few pictures that can't be improved by the addition of a Mao somewhere in the frame).

Mao is more than just a cliche though (as Wung Hu explains here) - his cult of personality was such that he is an icon with a multiple personality - with a whole selection of avatars ranging from the young activist/idealist to the soldier, bringer of independence and beyond. None of his avatars are especially true to the real Mao, the unhygienic old lech so entertainly described by his personal doctor in The Private Life of Chairman Mao or the carelessly callous leader that Philip Short writes about in Mao: A Life.

And of course, having a posting on Mao gives me an excuse to run some Mao pictures of my own. And what could be more fun than that.

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