1988, China – deletes a star!

Deciding to blog this is to engage in what Access propose, which is to help fill web space with content about what needs to be seen and heard. For us, it’s not only about one Artist.

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In 1988 Alain was in China for three months on a travel scholarship, studying temple gardens, architecture and contemporary Chinese art, making connections with Artists and Art institutions. While in Hangzhou towards the end of the journey a note-book with all his carefully recorded contacts was taken from a bag in his hotel room. Nobody knew where it went and it became impossible to trace the many friends and colleagues met with.  This was before the internet and emails or web sites that would have made this network visible and with a capacity to develop and communicate. On returning home, he was advised to let some more time pass because he may have already put some of those peoples lives in danger, a chilling thought.

The following year the Tiananmen Square massacre revealed to a surprised world how much the Chinese government feared the rapidly opening up of culture and communication with international links for the whole population.  The Xiamen special economic zone revealed unexpected insight into the scale of structural thinking for China to establish itself as the factory of the world for the next phase of global capital. Where could state capitalism flourish? Only in China on this scale.  It was also apparent that the purpose of Art was to become the human face and to function in much the same way that post WWII American Art had already operated.  In 1988 in Beijing or Shanghai, no one was that interested in what the  Chinese artists were doing and they mostly dreamed of being elsewhere.

It is a historic and consistent tactic within the Han Chinese political power structure to periodically and publicly enforce this kind of crackdown and to silence critical voices and expose the idea of a dissidence is not in harmony with the will of the people. Even Mao couldn’t resist this process and the signs of the Cultural Revolution as a destructive force to sweep through change could be seen everywhere, once you learned how to look .  An Artist who is speaking out becomes one of the most dangerous people for any government to tolerate.

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