beijing

David Crook, Measuring the Land (in Ten Mile Inn in Jinjiluyu Liberated Area, China), 1948, ink-jet print, 20 x 20". From “Rural North China, 1947–1948.”

“Rural North China, 1947–1948”

Taikang Space 泰康空间

David Crook, Measuring the Land (in Ten Mile Inn in Jinjiluyu Liberated Area, China), 1948, ink-jet print, 20 x 20". From “Rural North China, 1947–1948.”

In today’s People’s Republic of China, little is explicitly Communist, save perhaps the Chinese Communist Party itself. The country’s socialist period is rife with thorny, unprobed complexities, a legacy so fraught and out of step with that of today’s economic ascendancy that it is often completely sidestepped in discussions of China’s contemporary economy and culture. Yet even if its influence may not always be evident, the Communist legacy continues to inform the very structure of Chinese society.

A recent exhibition of photographs from rural northern China in the period between the end of World War II and the founding of the PRC raised questions about this legacy indirectly, through the topic of rural land reform. It featured black-and-white images by David Crook, a British Communist who with his wife, Isabel, wrote important books on the new China, both of them in the process

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 2013 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.