I have been living in China on and off for almost six years now. That is a little less than one fifth of my life and more than a third of my adult life.
I have studied China for longer than that, have read about it, listened to Chinese music, watched Chinese movies, and even danced Chinese dance.
Every year on the fourth of June, there comes this one moment of recognition: Today is the day of the Tiananmen killings. I see the image of the young man in front of a row of tanks in front of my inner eye, I hear the voice of the radio in the movie Lan Yu that announces that everything has taken an end or a similar euphemism, and I think about this huge square full of screaming and bleeding people as I imagine them in front of my inner eye.
I also see the Goddess of Democracy, that was built by art students.
(Image from here)
Yesterday, on my way to ballet class, I took the MTR Island Line that was more crowded than usual. I was wondering if an accident had happened, or whether something in sports was going on, and only when I saw a sign that indicated the way to the assembly square, I realized that a demonstration was forming, and due to the date, it could only be in remembrance of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.
Something of this kind would be impossible on the mainland, and I was impressed by the crowd of young people, who were probably not even born in 1989, moving towards the square. For a second I was hesitating whether I should join them, but then my desire to dance won my inner fight. But I decided to dance for them, those who died, those who lost friends and family, those who were injured, those who left China in the aftermath, those who were and still are imprisoned, and those who lost a lot of opportunities on that day.
And then there’s Ai Weiwei, who, as always, puts in strong gestures, what seems to be needing so many words:
Study of Perspective – Tiananmen
1995-2010 (this one is from 1998)
32.5 x 43.5 cm
© Ai Weiwei