History of Life is a collection of 415 restored photographs chronicling the history of modern China, from 1910s to the late 1990s. Compiled from over 600,000 negatives, Cai Dongdong curated the book using salvaged negatives from ordinary Chinese citizens and public records which he developed, scanned and selected. Adding a few of his own pictures into the story, the artist crafted his interpretation of the birth and growth of modern China over 3 of the country’s most formative eras: the founding of the Republic, the cultural revolution, and the post-Mao era.
In the artists own words:
“These images carry the memory of Chinese people. Memories are the only way to establish life. The process of forming this memory symbolizes how I visualize history. Visualization is the only way to understand facts.”