Kurt Tong

Dear Franklin

Editor Coedition Atelier EXB/Photo Elysée
Publication date 2022
Dimensions 17 x 23.5 cm, blow book binding
Number of pages 352
ISBN 978-2-36511-344-1
Price EUR 42.- / CHF 49.-

Following in the footsteps of a man named Franklin Lung, the book immerses the reader in the history of the Chinese diaspora, from the fall of the Middle Kingdom in 1912 until the 1950s. Through vintage images, press clippings, letters – correspondence between two fiancés – and photographs, artist Kurt Tong tells the story of the life of a man from a modest family. After a brilliant education, he moves to cosmopolitan Shanghai and falls in love with the daughter of a Kuomintang general. Caught up in the tumult of political events, Franklin Lung and his fiancée experience the ravages of war, exile, acculturation… Here, “micro-history” resonates with major current societal themes such as armed conflict, internally displaced persons, migration, separation, disappearance.

 

The book can be flipped through and read in the classic way, from left to right: exchanges of letters and photographs sketch the destiny of the two characters, like a soap opera; but also from right to left, and it is then that the entire political and social history of China in the first half of the 20th century unfolds. With its alternating pages of different widths, the book offers two reading systems, half fiction, half history. Archivist, poet, novelist, historian, Kurt Tong explodes the boundaries of the photography book. The iconographic richness, the literary approach, the historical vision – mixing past, present, fiction and reality – renew the concept of “artist’s book”.

 

Dear Franklin is the winning project of Prix Elysée 4.