Beijing - Cross-eyed, 2012
Larger view here.
On a recent visit to Beijing I wanted to create a new project experimenting with placing hidden images in public spaces. Before going to Beijing I met with all of the Yangsang dong Residency artists in Gwangju South, Korea, to discuss why Beijing is important for us to visit. We initially came up with the topic “What can Gwangju learn from Beijing? What can Beijing learn from Gwangju?”
It’s clear that Beijing is the art center of Asia, and even aspires to become the art center of the world. Gwangju could perhaps learn from some of the many government lead projects focused on supporting the art community in China. However I became more interested in what I thought was a contraction, how could art flourish where self-expression is controlled and censored by the government? Gwangju and Beijing both share a similar history. Citizens of both cities suffered terrible massacres while fighting for democracy. But still today, China does not have free speech. Last year’s detention of the renowned Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei, demonstrated how the Chinese government is still able to unfairly imprison their citizens and thus scaring anyone else that may consider speaking out about any injustices happening in the country. As a guest and tourist in China I wanted to create a project that explored this dichotomy without becoming overly political or antagonistic. I decided to use an old popular optical illusion technique placing hidden images on patterns of tradition Chinese flower paintings. I then placed the patterns in public spaces around Beijing. I’ve hidden images of recent and past democratic uprisings as well as logos and symbols of some of the many things the Chinese government controls access to on the Internet. My intension is not to spread propaganda to Chinese citizens, as most of the images or symbols would be meaningless to most people, but rather, I created this project to remind viewers outside of China of the strong control the Chinese government still holds over it’s citizens even as art in China flourishes.