THOMAS SAUVIN. “Until Death Do Us Part”, 06.09 — 06.10

In China, it is difficult to imagine a wedding without cigarettes: guests, newlyweds, children and the elderly are all seen in the shapshots smoking. As a token of appreciation, it is customary for the bride to light a cigarette for each and every man invited, regardless of his age. The bride and the groom are then invited to play some cigarette-smoking games of an unprecedented ingenuousness.  

The role of cigarettes in weddings in the Middle Kingdom drew the attention of the  French photocollector, editor and publisher Thomas Sauvin who made it the topic of his project and photobook “Until Death Do Us Part”. In 2003-2015 he was living in Beijing, collecting abandoned amateur photographs made in the 1995-2000s – a period of the emergence and boom of digital photography in the country. Thomas rescued them from a warehouse that belonged to Xiao Ma’s – a famous hunter for silver nitrate in the region. Xiao soaked X-rays, negatives, used for printing books and catalogues, as well as ordinary films ended up in trash in a special bath filled with acid and, a few days later, collected the black powder formed on the surface of the water. In this form, nitrate was purchased by laboratories, where the element was needed for chemical reactions.

The photobook “Until Death Do Us Part” was published by the Chinese publishing house “Jianzazhi”, where it had been decided to sell it in a pack of popular local cigarettes “Double Happiness”, thereby emphasizing the irony of love and death walking hand in hand. The story is a part of Sauvin’s bigger project “Beijing Silvermine project” – an archive of half a million negatives saved by the French researcher from acid baths and dumps. In the shots of abandoned films Thomas was watching the level of life in China rising in the course of 50 years and people starting to have fun, travel and consume more.

Since 2006, working as a consultant to the British Archive of Contemporary Conflict, Thomas Sauvin has organized archival photography exhibitions in China, France, USA, Austria, Singapore and the UK. In Belarus the project is shown for the first time.

06.09 — 06.10
“Ў” Gallery

12:00 – 20:00, daily

06.09
Opening

“Ў” Gallery, 19:00