Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17

AlfRodchenko

Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

58

Thanks to Li, seemingly anonymous faces and

places take on names and identities. Li shows

the surreal events to be all too real. Through

his lens, these people and occurrences from

so far away are made at once personal and

universal, and all too familiar, reminding us of

events in Chile, Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan,

and Iraq. The Cultural Revolution unleashed

the frustration and anger of a new generation

eager to change the world, but the force was

harnessed and used by those in power for a

decidedly different purpose: its own complete

domination. In the late 1960s, student riots

erupted in other cities on other continents, but

they never resulted in the same premeditated

violence initiated by those at the helm of the

Chinese state.

We will be forever grateful to Li for having

risked so much to doggedly preserve the

images in this book at a time when most of his

colleagues agreed to allow their negatives to

be destroyed. Li was a young man in search of

himself, as seen in his many self-portraits in this

volume, who wished to leave behind a trace

of his own existance as well as his dreams of

individuality and a better world. History is indeed

Li Zhensheng’s paramount concern and this

book’s main purpose: to remember and revisit

those haunting and tragic events that were the

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Robert Pledge

An exerpt ... Li writes:

Three months after our wedding, on 5

April 1968, I photographed an execution

of seven men and one woman. Six –

including the woman and her lover,

who had murdered her husband – were

‘ordinary’ criminals. The other two men

were technicians at the Harbin Electric Meter

Factory who had published a flyer entitled

‘Looking North,’ which the authorities

interpreted as ‘looking northward toward

Soviet revisionism.’ They were condemned

as counter-revolutionaries. One was

named Wu Bingyuan, and when he heard

the sentence, he looked into the sky and

murmured, ‘This world is too dark’; then

he closed his eyes and never in this life

reopened them. All eight were put on the

backs of trucks in pairs, driven through

town, then out to the countryside northwest

of Harbin. There, on the barren grounds of

the Huang Shan Cemetry, they were lined

up, hands tied behind their backs, and

forced to kneel. They were all shot in the

back of the head.

No one asked me to take close-ups of the

bodies, but that’s waht I did, and because

I had only a 35mm wide-angle lens, I had

to get very close, so close I could smell the

fishy smell of blood and brains.

SHEEP IN THE ROAD : NUMBER TEN

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