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Banned By Beijing
St John's Waterloo, London
An exhibition calling out transnational repression through art and featuring the works of Badiucao, Lumli Lumlong and Vawongsir. It was curated by Euchar Gravina in partnership with Index on Censorship and launched at the Old Crypt of St John's Waterloo on Tuesday, 27th June 2023.
Making art is a defining and treasured trait of being human. Its story is not only weaved into the that of humankind but showcases its essence and wonder – spiritual, philosophical, functional, decorative, conceptual. It is utterly human.
A string of ignominious episodes in history tell of those who recognised the unique power of creative expression and sought to crush it. Again and again, it’s been judged an enemy of subjugation and a mortal danger to despots. A clear case is the Chinese Communist Party’s repression of its peoples’ right to freedom of expression. This has been widely documented, from the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and the more recent Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang to the countless number of writers and artists locked up in jails or under house arrest.
However, few realise that its ceaseless attempts to stifle all criticism of the party and country extend beyond its borders, including into Europe. According to Freedom House, the CPP is currently conducting the most sophisticated, global campaign of transnational repression in the world.
Banned by Beijing highlighted the CCP’s transnational repression in Europe by and through the works and stories of dissident artists. It was part of a project seeking to raise awareness of the CCP’s subversion of freedom of expression in Europe by creating a repository of reports, articles and other resources that will enable us to understand the extent to which we need to protect our fundamental rights and our democracies from Chinese interference.
At St John’s Waterloo, the focus was on artists and musicians who have been subject to repression outside of the Chinese borders. The exhibition aimed to not only warn but also to celebrate those who, whilst in forced exile, keep facing down the long arm of censorship with the vigour of artistic expression. The launch featured a concert by the Uyghur musician and human rights activist Rahima Mahmut and the London Silk Road Collective at St John's Waterloo.