Photographs by Mechthild Leutner at the Confucius Institute at Freie Universität / Opening on March 14, 2018
No 043/2018 from Mar 06, 2018
An exhibition of photographs from China in the 1970s will open on March 14, 2018, at the Confucius Institute at Freie Universität Berlin. More than 100 photos document the living conditions of Chinese people in the mid-1970s. They depict scenes from everyday life and work in town and country as well as festivals and leisure time. The photographs were taken by Mechthild Leutner, a professor emeritus of sinology at Freie Universität Berlin. After diplomatic relations were established between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of China, she was in the first group of German exchange students in China.
In 1974/1975 Mechthild Leutner learned Chinese at the Beijing Language and Culture University and studied modern history at Peking University. The photos were taken in Beijing and during study trips to Tianjin, Shanghai, and Canton as well as Hunan.
In the public sphere of that time - the last years of the era of Mao Zedong - the movements of the late cultural-revolutionary phase were as present as the memorial sites of the revolution and the new socialist achievements. In these years there were already signs of a change, but the dynamics of the following years were yet unimaginable. The photos show a former China - and in their contrast to the present, they make clear the tremendous efforts of the people in the transformation of their living conditions.