Since 2009, French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin has embarked on an unusual adventure: salvaging discarded negatives destined to destruction from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Undertaking one of the largest and most important archival projects in China, he buys by the kilo, taking away rice bags filled with thousands or rolls of slobbery, dusty and scratched negative film. Once closely examined, images are consistently selected, digitized, and classified in a documentary process. Today Beijing Silvermine encompasses over half a million of anonymous photographs from 1985 to 2005, reconstructing a large part of the history of popular analogue photography in China and drawing the portrait of a mutating country in the process of opening to the world, and mostly unknown to the rest of the world. This evolving archive allows us to apprehend negatives in different ways, among others through the artistic collaborations made with international artists.
After several years living in Beijing, Thomas Sauvin is now back in Paris. And TheWaysBeyond opens you the doors of his hidden workplace, 2 steps away from the Eiffel Tower, for a singular meeting with this refreshing mastermind. Together we will go through his most recent works and collaborations and discover the inspiring books he has published since the beginning of the Silvermine project. Need we say we will do so around a glass of champagne? 🙂