Tell China’s Story Well
The work of Chinese dissident artist-activist Badiucao first gained international attention on social media, where the message of his protest art quickly resonated. His strikingly apt graphics and illustrations, often ironically evoking the visual language of communist propaganda, have voiced his criticism of the various forms of ideological control exercised by political power in China and elsewhere in the world.
Badiucao’s work online, which has often taken the form of participatory campaigns, research projects or calls for action, goes hand in hand with his offline artistic production including paintings, drawings and audio-visual installations presented in the exhibition Tell China’s Story Well.
The title of the exhibition refers to China’s public diplomacy strategy. The phrase, introduced by President Xi Jinping within the first year of his administration, in August 2013, served as an encouragement to Party-state media, and even quasi-private actors, to promote official Chinese views and opinions and thus strengthen the country’s international influence.
Badiucao’s art of protest is telling a different story. A story of ongoing human rights violations, the manipulation of historical memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square events, censorship inflicted on Chinese citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, forced cultural assimilation of the Uyghurs, protests in which Hong Kong residents fought to oppose government policy, and the disturbing relationship between China and Russia in light of the war in Ukraine.
At the same time, the exhibition pays tribute to all those, who, like Badiucao himself, have felt they had a duty to stand up and speak out against any form of injustice. Those, who, despite great risks, have had the courage to raise their own voice and tell their own story.
Post Scriptum: Badiucao’s first solo exhibition, which was to open in Hong Kong in 2018, was called off at the very last minute following threats to the artist and his family. His first exhibition was thus presented in Fondazione Brescia Musei, Italy, in autumn 2021. A few days before the opening, the Chinese government contacted the mayor of the city, requesting that the exhibition be cancelled. In spring 2023, just days before Badiucao’s exhibition was to be opened in Prague, similar pressure was exerted on the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.