The essay examines photography at Tiananmen from 1949 to the present. Personal mementos are placed within personal narratives and used as scaffolding for memory work. Documentary films juxtapose photography with other social practices at the square. Photography both conveys and shapes the relation between Tiananmen's two functions, as an emblem of the state and as a cement-covered recreational park. Through the overlap of multiple frames—pictorial, spatial, and ideological—images and social practices define the relationship between photographed subject and prevailing values and iterate the link between culture and politics.

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