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Tang DeSheng, “Educated Youth”

Tang DeSheng presents Educated Youth  at the Speos Gallery – 7 rue Jules Vallès, 75011 Paris.
Exhibition from November 13 to December 8, 2014.
This exhibition was co-organized by Lei Gao, curator, Speos alumni 2002.

Tang DeSheng started his career in the army, where he served as a photographer during military service. The following ten years, he photographed “zhiqing” (educated youth), who were sent to live and work in the countryside during the “Up to the Mountain and Down to the Countryside” Movement. The 6 000 photos he took are the only photographic witnesses of this movement, which — after all these years — are finally shown in public.
Tang DeSheng is a Chinese free-lance photographer, who also works for the Wujin County Photography Association as well as the Changzhou Photographers’ Association.

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“It is difficult not to be trapped by the numbers. 60 million. Young people, friends, relatives, whole families. Researchers now say the documents show it was 16 to 18 million people. It lasted twenty-five years, from the 1950s to 1975. The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement. A whole generation of young Chinese students. The worst years were the late 1960s and mid-1970s. Repercussions of the movement continue throughout China and across two to three generations of Chinese families.
Today China is slowly coming to grips with the enormous and still hidden impact of the “educated youth movement,” its profound complexity and contradictions. The movement affects China at every level. Recently, five of seven members of China’s powerful Central Politburo Standing Committee were “educated youth.” The current president of China, Xi Jinping, is an educated youth.
The pictures hide a lot. It has taken Tang Desheng a long time to show these pictures publicly, and he is careful about what he shows. But the people who were part of the movement understand.”

Wendy Watriss
Curator and Co-founder, FotoFest International

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