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Abigail Kenyon

MA work

Title of Dissertation: China Pictorial: State Design, Ideal Vision and Disjuncture 1951-1957

China Pictorial began publication in 1951: it is a state controlled Chinese propaganda magazine. It was one of the first publications to be translated into the English language in the newly established People’s Republic of China. The magazine mainly contains photographs, which are accompanied by captions and short texts.

A close analysis of the ways in which the photographs, layout and text have been designed has provided a wealth of information on the magazines social and political context of production in 1950s China. The content of the magazine, and the various themes it promotes, provides a visual record of the state’s designed image of the New China. Details such as library stamps, drawing and hand-writing on the magazines, in the archives visited in the process of research, have shed light on the varying degrees of reader interaction with the magazine.

In the 1950s China Pictorial promoted an ideal Chinese socialist modernity, this was based on ideas of equality, productivity and morality. China’s representation of modernity was received with varying degrees of disjuncture in the UK, where the consumerist boom of the post-war period was taking place.

The magazine is approached as a designed object that has travelled across national and ideological boundaries during the Cold War. This research into the mostly unstudied archive of China Pictorial based in UK institutions has enabled new insights to be made into areas such as propaganda, graphic design and photography.

Info

  • Abigail Kenyon profile image
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2013

  • Title of Dissertation: China Pictorial: State Design, Ideal Vision and Disjuncture 1951-1957

    China Pictorial began publication in 1951: it is a state controlled Chinese propaganda magazine. It was one of the first publications to be translated into the English language in the newly established People’s Republic of China. The magazine mainly contains photographs, which are accompanied by captions and short texts.

    A close analysis of the ways in which the photographs, layout and text have been designed has provided a wealth of information on the magazines social and political context of production in 1950s China. The content of the magazine, and the various themes it promotes, provides a visual record of the state’s designed image of the New China. Details such as library stamps, drawing and hand-writing on the magazines, in the archives visited in the process of research, have shed light on the varying degrees of reader interaction with the magazine.

    In the 1950s China Pictorial promoted an ideal Chinese socialist modernity, this was based on ideas of equality, productivity and morality. China’s representation of modernity was received with varying degrees of disjuncture in the UK, where the consumerist boom of the post-war period was taking place.

    The magazine is approached as a designed object that has travelled across national and ideological boundaries during the Cold War. This research into the mostly unstudied archive of China Pictorial based in UK institutions has enabled new insights to be made into areas such as propaganda, graphic design and photography.

  • Degrees

  • Certificate, Facilitated Learning, Camberwell College of Arts, 2007; BA (Hons), Drawing, Camberwell College of Arts, 2006; Diploma, Art & Design, Winchester College of Art, 2003
  • Experience

  • Performance artist, Hayward Gallery, London, 2012; Workshop coordinator, Word Art Collective, London, 2012; Administrator, Barbican Centre, London, 2010–present; Licensing administrator, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2007–8
  • Awards

  • The Anthony Gardner Award, 2012
  • Publications

  • ‘On the Ai Weiwei Study Day', Abigail Kenyon, edited by Marilyn Zapf, Post-Neo-De-Craft-ivism, Unmaking Things, 2012