American's lens captures May 4 history

By Cheng Lu/Hu Tao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-07 11:08:08

American's lens captures May 4 history

A child in a tiger costume. Sidney D. Gamble / For China Daily

American's lens captures May 4 history
In pictures: pottery making in China's Shandong

American's lens captures May 4 history

 Homemade opera masks
About 15 years after Gamble's death, his daughter found his nitrate negatives in a closet at home in New York. Stored in beautiful rosewood boxes, the negatives were housed in individual paper sleeves, annotated with typed and handwritten captions. An agreement to bring the collection to Duke was signed in 2006.

"I was immediately fascinated by these images of Chinese life more than 100 years ago as I tried to figure out the location and background of each picture, and later as I translated their titles into Chinese. Since then, I have wanted to promote this collection to audiences around the world," says Zhou Luo, a researcher with Duke University.

Zhou started working on the metadata on the Gamble photographs in 2008, when the images had been sent to Duke after digitization.

Among the 5,000 photographs in this collection are about 2,000 images related to Beijing. "The majority of images were never published or exhibited during his lifetime," Guo says.

The memorial has received about 300 to 400 visitors on workdays and nearly 700 on weekends since the exhibition opened.

"In a picture that shows a traditional Chinese funeral, I saw a (rare, sacrificial) paper car. It's amazing. I never expected that these luxury sacrifices had such long history in China," says a visitor from Beijing.

A middle school student says that young Chinese lack such passion today and they need to learn from the spirit of the May Fourth Movement.

"The spirit involves patriotism, progress, democracy and science. While we make more money and enjoy a better life today, we need to seek spiritual pursuit and faith. This exhibition gives us a new perspective to know our history in a vivid and objective way," Guo says.


New Culture Movement Memorial

29 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing.

9 am-3:30 pm, Tuesday-Sunday, until May 18.


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