August 29, 2011

"Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare"

Chinese political activist  Ai Weiwei is also an accomplished artist.  You will recognize his Birds' Nest National Stadium from the 2008 Olympics

 Al Weiwei -Birds Nest At Night

According to Wikipedia Ai Wei Wei is

active in architecture, curating, photography, film, and social and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-skin schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes" (tax evasion?)

Across the world, governments, human rights groups and art institutions protested his detention
and called for his release.  On June 22, 2011, Chinese authorities released him on bail, but forbade him from leaving Beijing for one year.

Yesterday,  Newsweek published an extraordinary piece he wrote about his native city, Beijing.

Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor villages where they’ve never seen electricity or toilet paper.
The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.
None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

There are positives to Beijing. People still give birth to babies. There are a few nice parks. Last week I walked in one, and a few people came up to me and gave me a thumbs up or patted me on the shoulder. Why do they have to do that in such a secretive way? No one is willing to speak out. What are they waiting for? They always tell me, “Weiwei, leave the nation, please.” Or “Live longer and watch them die.” Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die.
This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

The brutality of the government is well-known from forced abortions to live harvesting of human organs from political prisoners to heavy censorship of the Internet.    Missing are 50 million girls that would otherwise be alive if they were not aborted in what can only be called gendercide.
Across the country there are tens of thousands of riots each year that go unreported.    Corruption is rampant all through the system.  Communist central planning has resulted in 64,000, 000 vacant homes being built in what has become deserted "ghost cities" across China that can be seen in satellite images..  Not to mention China is an Environmental Disaster Are-and Why that Won't Change Anytime Soon.  And by the way,  Their economic miracle is build on sand, not cement.

What convinced me that the country will implode in the near future was Ai WeiWei's essay. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at August 29, 2011 9:13 PM | Permalink