The Image Memory of Lianzhou

Archive Photographs 1965 to 1985

Curator: Duan Yuting

Project Initiators: Pan Wei & Huang Zhaiyu

Photographers: Wang Dongfu, Du Jixi, Pan Renshi

Documentary Director

© Du Jixi

© Du Jixi

© Pan Renshi

© Pan Renshi

At the source of the exhibition “The Image Memory of Lianzhou Archive Photographs 1965 to 1985”, is a series of images left behind by local photographers which were rediscovered when the Lianzhou Museum of Photography was under construction. These precious records have naturally made their way into the museum archives as one of the first major collections acquired by the institution. These series of historical pictures were taken by Lianzhou photographers Wang Dongfu, Du Jixi and Pan Renshi in the 1960s and 1970s, only to be discovered later by another local photographer, Huang Zhaiyu and Pan Wei, a famous cultural figure in Qingyuan. After the museum opened its doors, we had the chance to carry out a careful and thorough study of these images.

In recent years "vernacular photography fever" has taken over Chinese and international photography scenes. Photography is a vehicle for memory, a tool to record history, and for all its inherent qualities, it has become crucial to our cultural construction. Ever since the invention of photography, over 180 years ago, history has written itself when people pressed the shutter to record themselves, from individuals to families, across cities and countries. No matter how the art of photography has evolved over the course of its long history, in daily life and for most people photography often just refers to ordinary family portraits or  holiday pictures. However, these photographs can be more straightforward and make for spontaneous records of the spirit of the times, providing later generations with striking images to look back on themselves. This raw vernacular images often prove valuable documents to study our history, acting as myriads of glimpses into the past to fill the gaps of the sleek but flawed Grand Narrative. Over 800 000 vernacular photographs from all over the world have entered the collection of Nicephore Niepce Museum in France. Mr François Cheval, former director of the museum (currently co-director of Lianzhou Museum of Photography), has led in-depth research in the field of « vernacular photography ».

The discovery and valorization of “The Image Memory of Lianzhou” photographs, is an opportunity to peer into the picturesque life and vibrant history of the city of Lianzhou. The photographs offer us a glimpse of the past and an opportunity to picture our future more clearly. 

Curator: Duan Yuting


Wang Dongfu is a member of the Chinese Photographers Association and a senior member of the Guangdong Photographers Association. He previously worked as the Director and Vice Chairman of the Cultural Bureau of Lianzhou. He discovered photography in the 1950s and was invited to exhibit his series of Yao ethnic groups in the United States in 1987.

Du Jixi discovered photography in 1971. He previously worked as Associate Director and Media Secretary for the Municipal Government of Lianzhou.

Pan Renshi started working as a photographer at the Cultural Center of Lianzhou in 1966 and passed away in 1976.

Pan Wei is a member of the Chinese Photographers Association. He is the recipient of the 9th Guangdong Lu Xun Literary Award acknowledging his photographic work. He previously worked as Associate Director and Media Secretary for the Municipal Government of Lianzhou.

Huang Zhaiyu is a member of the Chinese Photographers Association. He participated in “ The 1st Chinese International Photography Art Exhibition ” in Beijing. He previously worked at the Cultural Center in Lianzhou.

Wang Guowei is a faculty member of South China Agricultural University’s Fine Art Department as well as a photographer and documentary director. He has directed many feature and short films since 2002. He directed among others the documentary Work Field.