The main aim of this multi-component output was to reveal a previously unknown segment of photobook history, in particular the work of Chinese and international photographers that have documented Chinese society in the past 120 years. Based on the thematic and chronological methodology proposed in Prof. Parr’s general photobook study, this survey uncovered for the first time the complex and rich history of photobook publishing in the region. Containing a century of photobook practice, this study was able to expose the importance of the book in the circulation and utilisation of photography in China while discovering and reassessing the photographic work of numerous local photographers. Parr conducted field work in China on numerous occasions in his pursuit to uncover and develop a research archive for this genre of work. Created in collaboration with Dutch artist Ruben Lundgren and several historians and academics specialised in Chinese photographic history (Gu Zheng, Raymond Lum, Stephanie H. Tung, and Gerry Badger), this research was disseminated through a richly illustrated publication and exhibitions in the USA, Europe and China. As acknowledged by Schaefer (2016), the range, rigour and depth of the study have transformed it into a key academic tool in the development of future studies on Chinese photography and the discussion of Chinese photobook history in academic curricula dedicated to Asian photography.
Martin Parr is a key figure in the world of photography; in addition to his work as a photographer, he is a renowned collector of photobooks, and the coauthor with Gerry Badger of The Photobook: A History, volumes I–III. He is a contributor and advisor to several other projects about the photobook, including The Latin American Photobook (Aperture, 2011). Parr is a member of Magnum Photos.
WassinkLundgren is a collaboration between Dutch artists Thijs groot Wassink and Ruben Lundgren. They have received several awards, including the Prix du Livre at Rencontres d’Arles for best contemporary photobook and the China Academy Award.
Gu Zheng is a photographer, critic, historian, curator, and associate professor in the School of Journalism at Fudan University, Shanghai. He also serves as vice-director of that university’s Research Center for Visual Culture.
Raymond Lum recently retired as librarian for the Western Languages Collection at Harvard- Yenching Library, where he also served as Curator of Historic Photographs. He is currently the book review editor for the online scholarly journal Trans-Asia Photography Review.
Stephanie H. Tung is a PhD candidate at Princeton University. Prior to her studies at Princeton, she worked as a translator and junior curator for the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing. She is currently based in Shanghai as a Fulbright Scholar.
Gerry Badger is a critic, architect, curator, and photographer. His published books include The Genius of Photography (2007); The Pleasures of Good Photographs (2010); and The Photobook: A History, volumes I–III, coauthored with Martin Parr