“If there is going to be a revolution, there must be a party”
A few days ago, Akshay reviewed Cristina d Middel’s much praised (and extremely difficult to find) photobook “The Afronauts”. For those who like, and collect, photobooks, “The Afronauts” is one of the big fishes, the trophy that we would like to get hold of, while we must get by with the iPad version (or the PDF…)
Party: Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung, or rather “Quitonasto Form Chanmair Mao Tungest”, as written in the book cover, is her latest book. It is based on the famous little red book of the Cultural Revolution era, which contained the Chinese Communist Party ideology, and from the outside it really looks like a new edition of the book: small size (8.9 x 12.7 cm), red plastic cover with golden letters, thin pages.
Cristina has removed most of the text in the book, leaving only few words here and there that compose sentences sometimes naïve (“nature changes”), sometimes enigmatic (“If you want to know the taste of eating yourself”), and interleaved photographs, in the size little bigger than 6×6 contacts, taken in a trip to China.
The combination of photographs and text builds a narrative very much in the style of Cristina: combining humor, tenderness, and the surrealism present in everyday life. This is the China that will not appear in any photographic report published in the media: a little paper tiger on a window sill, red carpet on a staircase, two little girls in red striped dresses holding hands, a broken bust of Mao, somebody playing with a dog … It is the story of a personal trip, where the little unconnected details fall together to draw a picture of the wonder of travel and life.
I guess that Party can be considered a photobook (it has already earned a couple of prizes.). But its small format, the appropriation, almost like a souvenir, of the little red book, and the power of the conjunction text, constructed from pieces of Mao ́s quotations, and images, make it transcend the traditional concept of a photobook.
Party: Qutotations from Chairman Maoi spublished by Editorial RM in collaboration with the Archive of Modern Conflict. For further reading have a look at the website for AMC. Albert and I also had a conversation about the book along side Broomberg & Chanarin’s “Holy Bible”. Have a look at CPH Mag‘s website for notes on the same.
About The Author : Albert Such is a documentary photographer based in Barcelona. You can have a look at his work on his official website.