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Photos connect faces with people

By Li Xinzhu  (China Daily)

09:24, June 19, 2012

Visitor Chen Baochu takes a picture with the photograph of his grandfather. Yong Kai / China Daily

As a special highlight of the 2012 Shanghai Biennial, the photography exhibition by Sam Sanzetti will be held in Shanghai till the end of July.

Sanzetti, whose real name was Sioma Lifshitz, was a Jewish photographer who arrived in Shanghai in 1922. He opened his first photography studio in 1927 after working as an apprentice for a US photographer.

The studio was located on 73 Nanjing Road, but has relocated to 171 East Nanjing Road.

Sanzetti's studio was the best in the city at the time. He captured the images of many film stars, celebrities and the rich, eventually opening up another four branches.

In 1957, Sanzetti left Shanghai for Israel and brought more than 20,000 photos with him.

In an interview in his old age, he said the most fantastic time of his life was in Shanghai, and he savored the photographs that captured the memories. He never returned to Shanghai before his death in 1986.

In 2011, some portraits from those days were accidentally discovered by Sanzetti's stepson, who urged the Israel consulate in Shanghai to help identify people in the photos.

More than 200 portrait photos were posted online via twitter-like Chinese Weibo, the consulate says: "If you know anyone from those photos, maybe they are your parents, grandparents, please contact us."

Dozens of netizens participated and contributed information about the people in the photos. Many of them still live in Shanghai.

The exhibition provides a unique chance for the public to see those old photos from the glory days of old Shanghai.

In addition, Sanzetti's stepson will be coming to Shanghai this month.

He will be bringing hundreds of old portrait photos with him - pictures that await identification and reunion with surviving families.

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