Revolutionary Model Operas (1969-1974)
By Zhang Yaxin
Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, Beijing Film Studio, 1969 [China.org.cn]
Zhang Yaxin was born in 1933 and graduated from the photography department of Changchun Film Academy. He joined Xinhua News Agency as a staff reporter in 1963. He took stills of the revolutionary model operas from 1969 to 1976 and held an individual photo show "Surrealistic Memories—Stills of Revolutionary Model Operas" in Beijing's 798 art district in 2007.
Revolutionary model operas are a unique art form that appeared during the "Cultural Revolution" movement. Their plots are based on stories of laboring people struggling and fighting for happiness. The operas were made into films and TV shows for promotion nationwide. Stills of the characters and scenes were printed on posters, stamps and craftworks. It was a mass commercial campaign even though people didn't understand it in those terms at the time. As the dominant art form in people's lives for about 10 years, the revolutionary model operas and their impact on society are worthy of careful analysis from a pop culture perspective. (Chen Jianzhong, photography critic residing in the U.S.)
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