Via Danwei and loads of other blogs is this Chinese-made documentary about Bian Zhongyun, supposedly the first teacher to be beaten to death (by her female students) during the Cultural Revolution.* The documentary has attracted attention, not just for its powerful subject matter, but because its inclusion in a film festival in Yunnan lead to the event’s cancellation by the Chinese authorities.
The whole documentary, with English-language subtitles, is available in ten parts on You Tube. I’ve only had a chance to view the first part so far (via the Citizen of Philadelphia blog), but I’ll definitely make the time to watch the rest over the next couple of days.
*In an addendum to the Danwei post Geramie Barme suggests that Bian was neither the first teacher killed, nor that she was beaten to death (though she was clearly beaten). But that her death remains notorious, probably in no small part due to her husband’s efforts to document her death and the events and persecution she suffered leading up to it.
Mary Stevens wrote about this exhibition ages ago on her blog – I’m just trying to catch up after my busy week! Unfortunately (for me) the article she links to is in German, but I’ve used Google’s nifty translation tool (I got a D in GCSE German) and can offer a, slightly dodgy, English translation of the article here. I’m intrigued by Horst ‘Charcoal Burner!. 😉 Anyway, the basic gist is that this new major exhibition of Tibetan objects from China at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin avoids discussion of the 1959 Chinese ‘liberation’ of Tibet and the resulting destruction of many religious and culturally significant objects following the Dalai Lama’s flight to India. The Der Spiegel article suggests that it was a Chinese condition for the loan of these objects that any political context was glossed over by the curatorial team. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time. To what extent do the Chinese cultural authorities control the representation of China without its borders? For example, I would be really interested to find out whether, for example, the V&A and British Museum – who have entered into a cultural exchange programme with Chinese museums (which has lead to the Qin Shihuangdi exhibition at the BM later this year) have had to agree to similar conditions. I have a strong suspicion that there has, at the very least, been some self-censorship in anticipation of visits by officials from the Chinese Embassy, which is backed up by some anecdotal evidence passed onto me (admittedly second hand). Of course, this all has implications for how the Cultural Revolution is – or, indeed – if it can ever be sufficiently explored in the museum environment.
…as blog censorship by the Chinese authorities has become known. Here’s a good overview of the current situation from The Peking Duck. It seems that all wordpress blogs are currently blocked from China. Damn! I was hoping Cogs and Wheels had attracted the specific attentions of the censors. Last Friday me and a friend and a friend of that friend went to an evening of Beijing Opera at the Richard Attenborough Centre. The cultural attache (is that the right title? Not sure) from the Chinese Embassy was in attendance. I had visions of him having a list of enemies of the State with my name on it. 😉
(I’m addicted to smileys.)
Now my research seminar is done and dusted – as is my Chinese exam (as predicted, went horribly badly) – I’ll soon have more time for research and reading and intellectual business like that. Just got a small backlog of admin-type tasks to clear first…