This poster titled “The future of the rural village” was published in October 1958 and was designed by Zhang Yuqing.
The main scene in this poster depicts a group of people working on bringing in the grain harvest. Around them there are many examples of modernized technology that is the key element in “the future.” In this poster technology is clearly posed as the future for rural villages, with an emphasis on machines.
In this poster there are some key elements that promote modernization spread throughout the image. Starting on the left side there are two new machines at work in the field. In the background you can see another village with an industrial plant producing smoke. Next to the machines stands a young girl on a phone that is connected through telephone wires to the village in view and out of the poster. There are then five other new machines that make grain harvesting simpler. On the road buses, trucks and motorcycles can be seen as well as a train. The road is also lined with street lamps. In the background behind the village on the right you can also see industrial production and grain storage. High on the hill there is also another structure with wires around it however it is difficult to tell what exactly it’s is supposed to be. Overall this poster contains around 15 or so new technologies to the village.
The website also had some information on the designer of this poster. Zhang Yuqing, was one of the most prolific poster designers in the 50s and 60s his posters are also well known for their extreme amounts of detail.
This poster is reflective of the optimism that surged at the very beginning of the Great Leap Forward. The Great Leap Forward promised increased agricultural production and technology advances for rural villages, therefore this poster echoes those promises. Since this poster was published within the first year of the start of the Great Leap Forward it is likely that some people would have still viewed it positively since some areas did not see famine or the harsher results of the Great Leap until later on in the program. However many areas were already hard hit by the disaster the Great Leap caused and for those in poorer villages the “future” that this poster represented might have sparked discontent or anger.
The public response to this poster would have been mixed and depended on where the viewer was from. For people in urban centers the Great Leap would not greatly impact them until the very end, and posters like this would prompt positive responses. Rural residents would have more common negative responses to the poster especially if famine had come to their village already.