Original Chinese Language Article By: Xiong Xin Jun (君熊新)
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Translator’s Note: Within China’s Constitution, freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are guaranteed. As capitalism and imperialism were over-thrown and driven out of China in 1949, these hard-earned Communistic ‘freedoms’ do not include the re-importation of the bourgeois mind-set back into China. These artists are expressing themselves using the freedoms they possess – but where arrested for damaging property and causing alarm. The point the artists are making is that the Government of China should change the policy that allows for not only old (and dilapidated) buildings to be replaced, but which also permits the demolishing of ‘new’ buildings to make way for roads, or other such developments. Occupants are asked to sign a document granting the Government permission to demolish the building and provide a replacement somewhere else. According to this article, this policy has sometimes caused disharmony amongst the people. As the artists are advocating ‘individual’ rights over that of ‘collective’ rights, their protest may be considered ‘bourgeois’ in nature. It is also true that the vast majority of Chinese people support the Government and its developmental plans for China. This article is from 2010. ACW (26.11.15)
This article is about an artistically inspired ‘Declaration of Freedom’ that is centred around the general criticism associated with the enforced real estate re-building projects that clear land by ‘demolishing’ buildings without any consideration to the outer physical (or inner spiritual) damage this policy inflicts on the people. This is the use of art as a means of ‘non-violent non-co-operation’ to draw attention to difficulties existing within society regarding the government, real estate, finance, humanitarian concerns, the concept of freedom, and the well-being of vulnerable groups in China.
This performance art has three levels:
1) The writing of the character for ‘Demolition’ (拆 – Chai) on newly built houses as a means to draw attention to the policy of demolishing buildings. Our artistic protest is designed to encourage awareness and debate amongst the people. The two aspects of concern are that a) building new houses takes a great amount of valuable national resources, and it is b) paradoxical and illogical to construct and then demolish houses that have only just been developed – a situation that is compounded by the uncertainty and anxiety experienced by the occupants.
2) By writing of the character for ‘Demolition’ (拆 – Chai) on newly built houses we are creating an image burning with meaning (representing displaced people, the violent demolition of homes, and the national politics surrounding the issues associated with construction). This is performed with a sense of respect for the victims of the demolition, the plight of whom we want to be made known across China. By throwing red, yellow and blue paint at the character for ‘Demolition’ (拆 – Chai) which has been written on a gray wall, the three artists are expressing a non-violent and non-co-operative protest. The paint is thrown at the wall haphazardly and its random splatter pattern is symbolic of the free spirit and creative expression of the artists concerned. The point of this is to demonstrate freedom and the right to express concern. Freedom of thought and freedom of action combine in a powerful display of positive emotion in the environment.
3) There are definite humanitarian concerns surrounding the demolition of homes and the relocation of residents to new areas. Many people do not want to leave their homes and resist the demolition and protest against the relocation. This has led to violent protests which have caused injuries and deaths on both the side of the people and the authorities. Some people have even set themselves on fire in protest. This policy of ‘demolition’ causes many issues concerning security. The artists are using the medium of ‘art’ as a form of cathartic protest where all the angst and frustration can be diverted away from harmful expressions and into a (positive) creativity. Art is a legitimate vehicle for ‘struggle’ and ‘criticism’. As the artists were coming to the end of their demonstration, a warrant was issued for their arrest for ‘undermining public security and social harmony’. The artists were making the point that any form of violence represents ‘non-freedom’, and any form of ‘non-violence’ represents true freedom. Through this behaviour it is hoped that attention will be drawn to important social issues and changes made for the better as a consequence.
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.
Original Chinese Language Source Article: