The image of the weightlifter is transferred onto 2 image transfers of peasant paintings from the 1960s. This represents citizens working together to build a strong China. However, during this period, 30 million Chinese citizens died of starvation.
Chocolate Mao symbolizes the exposure and relationship of political science versus childhood experiences in China during Mao’s reign. Mao pins have been created with plaster of paris from molds taken from vintage Mao pins from the Cultural Revolution. They were then covered with chocolate and sealed with resin… 48X48 on board
Each bag symbolizes 1 million drops of blood representing the approximately 72 million citizens who died during Mao’s reign from starvation, beatings/executions, overwork and suicide. These drops are slowly building a monument to these ‘never spoken about’ deaths… the largest democide ever recorded in history. Are we going to just forget about these people?
This performance installation also references Chairman Mao’s refusal for Chou En Lai to receive medical treatment for cancer.
It also makes reference to Ai Wei Wei’s surgery in 2009 to remove fluid on the brain while installing an exhibit in Munich… the result of a beating from Chinese Authorities.
During the Cultural Revolution, all religions were banned and many churches and monasteries were ransacked or destroyed. These classic religious paintings were destroyed to create a stained glass effect with a completely different message mounted onto the cut out portion of an original Cultural Revolution banner dated 1967.8.
Jiang Qing was an amazing orator and would work red guards into a frenzy screaming ‘death by a 1000 cuts… down with Lui Shaoqi’. This was an ancient Chinese method of torture and execution. Jiang Qing’s image has been transfered onto pages of a 1958 Chinese Almanac. This book was banned during the Cultural Revolution due to it’s superstitious content. The image has been cut 1000 times.
At her trial in 1981, Jiang Qing defiantly declared, “I was Chairman Mao’s dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite”. These images were transfered onto pages of Beethoven Sonatas, western music that was banned during the Cultural Revolution
Jiang Qing (1914-1991), Mao Tse-tung’s 4th wife, became a major power figure with the Communist Party of China. She joined the party in 1933 and was arrested one year later in Shanghai spending 3 months in jail for her political activities. In 1935, she became a professional actress appearing in several films and plays adopting the stage name ‘Lan Ping’. After the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in 1937, Jiang left her acting career to join the resistance in Yan’an. Here at these Chinese Communist headquarters she became personally involved with Mao, nearly twice her age. The party granted a divorce to Mao and permitted the marriage in 1938, but required Jiang to stay out of politics for 30 years. In 1940, they had a daughter named Li Na. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Jiang became the nation’s first lady. She worked as Director of film in the Central Propaganda Department, and as a member of the Ministry of Culture for the film industry. She led an initiative for reforming opera in 1963 that resulted in revolutionary opera and defined works of drama, music, dance and other arts, including outright bans of unapproved works. During the Cultural Revolution beginning in 1966, Jiang was appointed deputy director of the Central Cultural Revolutionary Group and later became a member of the politburo. She was gifted at inciting Red Guards against senior party leaders including Liu Shaoqi, the president, and Deng Xiaoping, the deputy president. She relentlessly persecuted those she believed wronged per in the past. Her rivalry with Chou En-lai led to the arrest, torture and murder of his 2 adopted children by Red Guards. She established a close political working relationship with Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen, becoming known as ‘The Group of Four’. Jiang Qing collaborated with second-in-charge Lin Biao until his demise in 1971 and then spearheaded the ‘Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius Campaign. By 1973, she and Mao lived separately and the party had difficulty knowing how to deal with her with her severe erratic nerves. When Mao died in 1976, the ‘Gang of Four’ were soon arrested and served as a convenient scapegoat for the 10 years of political / social turmoil, and for the deaths of tens of millions of people. During her trial, she was unrepentant and delivered the famous quote: “I was Chairman Mao’s dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite”. In 1981, she was sentenced to death, which was commuted to life imprisonment. She hung herself in 1991 leaving a suicide note: “Chairman Mao! I love you! Your student and comrade is coming to see you”.
The Cultural Revolution set in motion by Mao Tse-tung, was a social-political movement that took place from 1966 through to 1976. It’s stated goal was to enforce socialism by removing capitalism through the destruction of traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society while imposing Mao orthodoxy in the party. Mao believed that the political hierarchy, still dominated by bourgeois elitist elements, capitalist and revisionists, justified mass purges. All politicians who had any history of being anything other than dogmatically Maoist were almost immediately purged. Liu Shao-chi (Shaoqi), president of the People’s Republic of China, once the most powerful man in China after Mao, was arrested, sent to a detention camp where he later died. This nationwide campaign called upon the students, workers, peasants and revolutionary cadres to carry out the task of transforming society by destroying the 4 olds….. old ideas, culture, customs and habits. Mao’s praise for rebellion was effectively an endorsement for the violent actions of the Red Guards and a ‘stop all police intervention’ was issued. Countless ancient buildings, artifacts, antiques and paintings from museums and private homes were destroyed on the spot. Millions of people were persecuted as spies, capitalist roaders, revisionists, bad elements or coming from a suspect class (those related to former landlords or rich peasants). For 10 years, China’s education system was brought to a grinding halt and most intellectuals and administrators were sent to rural labour camps. Anyone with skills above average were considered petty bourgeois and subjected to humiliating ‘struggle sessions’. On July 27, 1968, the army was deployed to stop the chaos. Mao began the ‘down to the country’ campaign to dismantle the Red Guard factions. They were sent to rural farms in order to learn from the peasants. This led to an entire generation of inadequately educated youths. In any case, the purpose of the Red Guards had been largely fulfilled. Mao had consolidated and regained his political power after his failure of The Great Leap Forward. In Mao : The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday claim that during the first few years of anarchy as many 3 million people died violent deaths and 100 million suffered in one way or another. The Red Guards killed a small percentage but most killings were sponsored by the state… the direct work of Mao’s reconstructed regime.
China aquires the atomic bomb. These images transfered on to pages of Mao’s 1966 first edition red book show the efforts required to achieve this goal…. farmers working the fields and young red guards and athletes striving to fulfill Mao’s dream. These pages of the red book are rare as they contain LinBiao’s forward; ‘study Chairman Mao’s writings, follow his teachings and act according to his instructions’, as well as; ‘we depend on the helmsman for sailing in the sea and depend on Mao Tse-tung thoughts for revolution’. These pages were supposed to be torn out after Lin Biao was denounced in 1971 or you would risk denunciations, arrest, beatings or even death. A vintage Mao pin symbolizes a basketball…. the youth striving to score points for China. This book also contains a personal note from one friend to another.
to my friend Zhun Chan
After two years together, we must now part
The feeling of departing you is like being put into boiling water
I hope we will become good steel in the furnace
I would like to shed my blood, to write a new history
your friend, Liang De
Nov. 8 1970