Friday, March 16

Sheng Qi's Finger

The Great Chinese Firewall (see last year's post) is alive and well, still blocking What a bunch of maroons, as Bugs Bunny would say. Informal discussions with an acquaintance who is apparently related to The Firewall Mandarin -- China's current Director of Internet Security -- reveals That-Whose-Name-Must-Not-Be-Taken is not only a bunch of servers and routers, but also 500-odd schmucks who sit in a windowless concrete building and watch internet traffic all day. If chat-room gossip-du-jour is found to turn to the politburo-member's daughter overdosing during her decadent birthday party, then the schmucks have to try to put a lid on things by adding 'birthday party' to the list of harmony-disturbing terms. In consequence, you might to your surprise be blocked when looking up the latest goings-on of the Party, or indeed Deng's birthday; for while the sickles are not very sharp, their hammer is indeed heavy.

To see if a site is blocked in China, see here.

Interestingly, sometimes harmony-disturbing-content does get through, perhaps during a schmuck's bio-break. I managed to get to, a progressive Chinese art site hosted out of Canada, without problem a couple of times; and then it got blocked (and remains so at the time of this post.) The picture above, which I saved from inside China, is by one Sheng Qi, whose gallery blurb reads:

"Sheng Qi came to public attention in 1985 as a key member of China's "New Art Movement." This circle of artists organized a series of collective performance events under the title Concept 21. In 1989, after the Tian'anmen Square Incident, Sheng Qi left Beijing for Rome. Before leaving, he cut off the little finger from his left hand and buried it in a flowerpot.

From 1993 to 1998, Sheng Qi studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London for a Master's degree. During his stay in the West, he participated in exhibitions in Europe, Mexico and the United States, including the much-hyped (1998) Inside-Out exhibition in New York that showcased contemporary Chinese art. During his exile he gained invaluable cross-cultural experiences enriching his work.

Sheng Qi says he is not sensing a cultural equality in the 21st century, and aspires to find a "Third Space" outside the hybrid of nationalism and globalization.In his recent paintings, Sheng Qi mainly displays China’s political history. He indirectly touches some of China’s sensitive issues, by painting for example an Army Parade at Tian'anmen Square, without further referring to its political meaning. The painting becomes a silent witness only in the mind of the viewer."


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