Home Interior Design China has once again tried – and failed – to cancel one of dissident artist Badiucao’s European shows

China has once again tried – and failed – to cancel one of dissident artist Badiucao’s European shows

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China has made another attempt to shut down Chinese dissident artist Badiucao’s upcoming exhibition in Europe. And again, the show will go on, with the host institution appealing for public support instead of bowing to pressure from Beijing.

The exhibition in question this time is “Tell China’s Story Well”, which is scheduled to open on June 16 at the Ujazdowski Castle, Center for Contemporary Art (CCA Ujazdowski Castle) in Warsaw, Poland. The show is the institutional debut of Badiucao in Poland; the artist and curatorial team have been busy setting up the exhibit for the past week.

The exhibition, which takes its title from President Xi Jinping’s proposal for external propaganda when he came to power in 2013, will present around 70 works including many previously unseen pieces, ranging from paintings and drawings to sound and neon installations. The politically charged show revolves around current themes in the artist’s practice, such as allegations of suppression of free speech and human rights abuses by China during its crackdown on Tiananmen in 1989, the Hong Kong protests in 2019, the revolt of Chinese citizens against Covid lockdowns, the forced cultural assimilation of Uyghurs, as well as China’s relationship with Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine .

Badiucao Warsaw

Chinese artist Badiucao is working with staff at the Ujazdowski Castle Museum, Warsaw Center for Contemporary Art, to install his upcoming exhibition “Tell China’s Story Well”. Courtesy CCA Ujazdowski Castle and the artist.

The exhibition was announced on June 6. Hours after the announcement and promotional posters went live, a senior official from the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw visited the museum to protest the exhibition and demand its cancellation, Artnet News has learned.

“We would like to express our concern and astonishment at the actions of the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw towards the CCA Ujazdowski castle, which have been carried out for several days and whose purpose is to stop the exhibition,” the CCA castle said. Ujazdowski in a statement. statement out June 9.

The museum has confirmed the visit of the Chinese Embassy to the museum. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has also received letters “demanding censorship interference” in the program of the Warsaw Arts Center. China has additionally blocked the institution’s website, the museum said.

CCA Castle Ujazdowski isn’t backing down, saying “we strongly oppose” China’s action, which it has interpreted as “acts of preemptive censorship.”

“We urge all who are committed to freedom of speech and expression to support us and the artist in resisting this pressure by visiting the upcoming exhibition and writing letters of support to the ministry of Culture and National Heritage,” the institution said.

Poland had close economic and political relations with China, which embittered after Russia invaded Ukraine, as Poland was a major supporter of kyiv. The institution’s forceful response to the action of the Chinese government and its willingness to defend freedom of expression contradict a report published last year by the Artistic Freedom Initiative, which suggested that the country’s artists and culture workers were under more pressure under the right-wing populist government.

Badiucao Warsaw

Chinese artist Badiucao pictured with one of his paintings, which equates the faces of Chinese President Xi Jinping and that of former leader Mao Zedong, at Ujazdowski Castle, Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, during the installation of his upcoming exhibition “Tell China’s Story Well”. Courtesy of the museum and the artist.

“This is not the first time the Chinese government has tried to kill my exhibit,” Badiucao told Artnet News. In 2021, when the artist had his first major exhibition in Europe, China tried to close it but failed. Last year, Beijing tried to cancel the artist’s exhibition at the DOX Center for Contemporary Art in Prague, but the show went as planned. Last year, the Index of Censorship compiled a report on how the long arm of chinese censorship has reached Europe.

The artist, a Shanghai native and former assistant at Ai Weiwei’s studio in Berlin, says the Chinese government’s actions have backfired and instead helped promote his exhibitions, as long as the museums concerned don’t succumb. not under pressure. But he remains concerned that in the long term Beijing’s ongoing actions will mean that any gallery, museum or institution hosting it will have to suffer the same kind of “bullying and intimidation”.

Badiucao called Beijing’s “wolf warrior” tactics “barbaric” and “unacceptable”. “It’s not normal diplomatic language,” the artist said. “This is not just an attempt to deprive me of my rights to free speech. It’s so clear interference in the affairs of foreign countries.

“But it shows how little the Chinese government respects freedom of expression or appreciates the very essence of art, which is to break down boundaries and speak the truth about our world and our reality,” he said. -he adds.

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