35mm Negatives Rescued from a Recycling Plant in Beijing and Transformed into an Amazing Project

On October 20, The New Yorker website published a very interesting article about a discovery of the french photographer Thomas Sauvin while he was living in China. In 2009 he found 35mm negatives in a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing, which he bought and became curator of the material.

Those photographs were taken by anonymous Chinese between 1985 – 2005, the zenith of film photography in China, which portrays everyday life, leisure, and travel in China and abroad. Two hundred thousand images were reviewed and grouped by themes.

Beijing Silvermine post

Untitled from the Beasts series

Untitled, from the self-portrait series

Untitled, from Losing faces series

Sauvin not only printed those negatives, but also worked on some of them by creating amazing effects. He named this project as Beijing Silvermine and created an homonymous Instagram @beijing_silvermine. Several photos were also posted on The New Yorker photo department’s Instagram (@newyorkerphoto), which dedicated an entire week for this project.

Untitled, from the Lunar Caustic series

Untitled, from the Sun & Moon series

double exposure

SIlvermine project photo

Thomas Sauvin says in the article: “The quantity of images involved allowed me to tell not individual stories but something more universal. I often hear people saying that these images show a face of China they haven’t seen before.”

Can you imagine if Sauvin hadn’t found those negatives? It would had been recycled, and those incredible images would had been lost forever.

The Archive of Modern Conflict, which is an independent publisher based in London, UK, published in 2013 a series of 5 hand-made albums, each containing 20 kodak prints from the Beijing Silvermine project, which are sold out.

album from McDonalds series

Since we are working and researching on bookbinding for The Process & Skills class , this is a great example and inspiration for an accordion fold.

Untitled, from McDonalds series

part from Silvermine album series

Silvermine album series

There is a great documentary on Vimeo about these project that worth to be seen.

Now you should take a look at more of those amazing and inspiring pictures on their Instagrams. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!


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