Index of Links to Exhibition Materials
|Link to Video of Interview with Tom Zetterstrom||Link to Exhibition Introductory Material||Link to Tom Zetterstrom Interview Quotations|
Combing: Tom Zetterstrom, Shanghai, 1981, original gelatin silver print
Faces of China, 1981: Photographs by Tom Zetterstrom
September 11, 2013 - December 6, 2013
12:00 - 4:00 Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays
Opening and Gallery Talk
Wednesday, September 11, 12 noon
Curator Patrick Dowdey and Photographer Tom Zetterstrom
A luncheon buffet will be served
Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies
343 Washington TerraceMiddletown, CT 06457
Contact: Ann Gertz, (860) 685-2330
Tom Zetterstrom’s photographs are a glimpse of China’s people in only the third halting year of Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up: before globalization or discos, before even cell phones. They were taken during his 1981 trip hosted by the Yale-China Association, were exhibited at the Asia Society and toured nationally in the eighties, but have not been displayed for 30 years. The people in these color and black and white portraits are guileless, everyday people who stand on the brink of enormous social change.
In her 1981 catalogue essay, Mary Price of the Center for Independent Study in New Haven wrote:
"When Tom Zetterstrom went to China on the invitation of the Yale-China Association,
he brought an intense concentration and isolating vision into the cities, crowds and confusion. He did not respond with pictures of the confusion or of the crowds, but with patiently collected details of telling moments, without political comment or alien judgment, or even more tempting possibilities of uncritical approval and sentimentality.
"Zetterstrom presents the monuments of the state—heroic social realist sculpture and the more ephemeral billboards, posters, and television screens—as important aspects of Chinese society’s visual instruction, which interplays in the exhibition with portraits of the Chinese at their daily tasks.
"Among those shown at work are the tinman, the bricklayer, and the peasant woman; firemen on their truck, an egg vendor in the street market, a laughing woman with bus tickets, a Shanghai taxi driver, an artist with his drawings made from photographs, with the photographs stuck in the frames of the drawings.
"One encounters humor throughout the exhibition. The success in conveying the quality of quiet good humor with a feeling of intimacy is attributable to the photographer, who quotes Robert Capa: “if your photographs aren’t good, you’re not close enough.”