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The production brigade's reading room

The production brigade's reading room

Designer: Zhao Kunhan (赵坤汉)
1974, September
The production brigade's reading room
Dadui tushushi (大队图书室)
Publisher: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe (陕西人民出版社), print no. 8094.328
Call number: BG E15/268 (Landsberger collection)

The production brigade's reading room

Designer: Zhao Kunhan (赵坤汉)
1975, January
The production brigade's reading room (Selected from the Huxian peasant painting exhibition)
Dadui tushushi (Xuan zi Huxian nongmin huazhan) (大队图书室 (选自户县农民画展))
Publisher: Shanghai renmin chubanshe (上海人民出版社), 3rd edition, print no. 8171.829
Call number: BG E12/124 (IISH collection)

These two posters embroider on the same theme as the previous one, but times have clearly changed. It is the Cultural Revolution, and propaganda does its utmost to portray China as an agrarian Utopia, although the images clearly show that progress has arrived in the rural areas, as can be seen from, a.o., the radio receiver on the wall. The works of amateur artists among workers and peasants were given nation-wide attention and support. These amateurs were promoted as representatives of the innate creative genius of the masses, as living proof that everyone could and should practice art. Among the best known were the peasant painters from Huxian, Shaanxi Province. Although touted as amateurs, it was later admitted that the peasant painters had received extensive professional help and assistance, often provided by the same professional artists who were no longer allowed to work themselves. The Huxian painters' highly political paintings provided idyllic slices of the good life in the rural areas, and were peopled with happy and enthusiastic peasants engaged in agriculture, political meetings and study sessions.

But these two posters show something else as well: How an image can be changed and/or altered to suit changing political demands, or changes in the message that needs to be propagated. Comparing these two posters is almost like a game of 'spot-the-ten-differences'!

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