´17 18 19´It is gorgeously printed with metallic silver ink on black paper. And it wasn’t a random aesthetic decision. The black pages allow the photographs to be printed in negative form. And the metallic silver ink ties ‘17 18 19’ to its genesis: the Silvermine Project. The silver and the negatives, once disposed in China, are now recycled into a book form.
The series is drawn from a bag of negative film salvaged from a recycling plant on the outskirts of Beijing in 2010. The bag contained an archive of over 15,000 scratched black and white negatives, shot at one of the city's detention centers between 1991 and 1993.
Thomas Sauvin kept the negatives presented in this series un-scanned for almost a decade. Even though the artist was intrigued by the content, the risk of scanning official Chinese disposed material could put in jeopardy the (by then) starting Silvermine Project. For this reason, this material was always edited by the artist in its raw negative form. Kept in such a way in the presented book.
The book is an investigative journey on the practice of those police department photographers and their aesthetic, practice and understanding of photography, composition and art direction. Who are those people? What are the stories behind each item? Why 17 18 19? Are questions that the reader has to solve. As if the book is a piece of evidence itself. Putting the reader in the investigator’s shoes.