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Tang Center Symposia

China Seen by the Chinese: Documentary Photography, 1951−2003
An international symposium in conjunction with the exhibition "Humanism in China: A Contemporary Record of Photography" on view at the China Institute, New York, NY from 24 September−13 December 2009.
Saturday, 24 October 2009, 9:00 am−5:00 pm
Helm Auditorium, McCosh 50
Princeton University
Organized by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art
Western photographers have been showing China to Westerners for 150 years, and photography has been a major medium in Western museums since the 1950s. It was not until 2003, however, that the Guangdong Museum of Art exhibited the first permanent collection of works by Chinese documentary photographers ever assembled by a Chinese museum. The Guangdong Museum's collection was selected by a curatorial committee of photographers who spent two years touring more than 20 provinces, viewing 100,000 photographs, and selecting 600 works by 248 photographers. Beginning on 24 September 2009, the China Institute Gallery in New York will have the privilege of holding the first exhibition of this collection in America, featuring a selection of 100 of these photographs. In association with this event, the Tang Center for East Asian Art will host a symposium, "China Seen by the Chinese: Documentary Photography, 1951−2003," at Princeton University on 24 October 2009. Presentations will consider historical and cross-cultural perspectives, critical and theoretical approaches to the subject, and the problem of defining "documentary" photography.

Registration is closed, but walk-ins will be accepted and symposium materials distributed as available. All are welcome to attend.

Please direct inquiries to Andrea at or 609-258-1741.

Special room block for this symposium: Rooms have been reserved at discount rates on a first-come, first-served basis at the Nassau Inn, at participants' expense. To reserve a room, call the Nassau Inn directly at (800) 862-7728 by 21 September 2009, and ask for the "Photography Symposium" or reference number 12227.

Additional hotels and bed-and-breakfasts within a five-mile radius of Princeton University are listed on our general Directions and Accommodations page.

Saturday, 24 October 2009
Registration and coffee, 8:30–9:30 am
Welcome and Introduction
Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University
"Humanism in China": The China Institute Exhibition
Sara Judge McCalpin, China Institute
Morning Session
Chair: Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University
China Seen by the Chinese: Documentary Photography, 1951–2003
Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University
Documentary Photography Projects: Some Observations
James Elkins, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Sha Fei and the Beginning of Chinese Social Documentary Photography
Eliza Ho, Ohio State University
Afternoon Session
Chair: Dora C.Y. Ching, Princeton University
Reclaiming Documentary Photography
Richard K. Kent, Franklin and Marshall College
Famine and Bare-Foot Children
David J. Clark, University of Bolton, UK, in cooperation with Dalian College of Image Art; Visual Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
Ecologies of Photographs
William Schaefer, University of California, Berkeley
Problems of Perspective in Chinese Documentary Photography
Bridget Alsdorf, Princeton University
Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University