Born in Shanghai, 1954, Chinese photographer Xu Yong published the negatives of the photographs he had taken during the Tiananmen Square Protest in 1989, naming the photobook Negatives. These negatives documented the largest protest for democracy in China, but were never developed into pictures. After a quarter of a century, these images are finally scanned and published-- in the form of negatives, where blood still boiled with passion in each frame.
In his forward, Xu Yong mentioned that "negatives present themselves as a much stronger evidence than photographs to those to try to wipe off or even create false memories, trying to create an alternate history." The Tiananmen Incident ended in bloodshed, with the army removing the protestors by force. Even till now, the Tiananmen Incident is a subject very much sensitive to the PRC government, which censors and bans any discussions on the incident. One would therefore be unsurprised that Negatives is banned in China. Even Xu Yong himself was unable to get a copy of his book, for the copy that his publisher sent him was detained and confiscated by the customs.
The book consists of 64 negatives, which readers may use the "Invert Colors" function of their cameras in iPhone or iPad to view in full colors after adjusting the "Accessibility" under the "General" settings. Perhaps just like the negatives, history itself is also still waiting for a chance to be re-visited, inverted and interpreted.
Xu Yong was only in his thirties when he took this set of images. He told The New York Times that he "spent everyday in and around Tiananmen Square over six weeks, standing on the seat of his bicycle to get elevated views--and breaking two cameras when he tumbled to the ground." He would not say how many photographs he took, but admitted that the publishing of these images would bring him troubles and even dangers ahead...
延伸閱讀 : 《攝影之聲》第15期 徐勇專訪
《底片》 | 徐勇 | 新世紀出版社 | 2015年2版 | 72頁 | 精裝
Negatives | by Xu Yong | Published by New Century Press | Feb. 2015 | 2nd edition | 72 pages | Hardback