China’s Olympic Art Attack

Paul Dixon writes on the Guardian’s Art&Architecture blog:

The Olympic Culture Wall is a 200-metre-long, state-endorsed celebration of the Beijing Games and an angry riposte to critical media coverage in the West.

… I looked at the wall with an English student from the prestigious Beijing University. He told me: “I think it is a kind of in light of all the negative headlines in western media over the course of the Olympic torch relay. The government will have monitored what went on this wall, carefully checking the artists’ sketches.”

So not only do we have the seemingly innocuous Olympic Friendlies (still political, though: one of them, Yingying, is a Tibetan antelope), but there are also direct expressions of patriotism lining the wall that go far beyond the realms of sport and more towards a visual protest against events over the last few weeks.

One image, located on the middle section, depicts the Olympic torch handle as the word “truth”. Another is a patriotic portrait of Jin Jing, the Chinese torch bearer known as “the angel in a wheelchair“, who made international headlines when she was attacked by pro-Tibet demonstrators on the Paris leg of the relay. The Love China heart – appearing on over 8 million instant messaging IDs in response to CNN’s Jack Cafferty labelling the Chinese as “goons and thugs” – also appears on many of the pictures.


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