Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Every year, China performs an extensive “stability maintenance” campaign in which activists, critics of the government, and outspoken parents of those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests are relocated outside of Beijing and placed under house arrest. The silence of censorship is placed at a premium, and social media is scrubbed of any references to the Communist Party’s massacre of the ’89 Democracy Movement. This crackdown on civil society is arguably at its peak during the months of May and June when online users notice seemingly innocent words like “today,” “yesterday,” and “tomorrow” are blocked.
Thirty years later, nobody knows for certain how many people were killed during the government’s armed suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. China initially said that 200 civilians and several dozen security officers died in Beijing following their confrontation with the “counter-revolutionary riots” on June 4, 1989. Later estimates have ranged from several hundred to more than 1,000. Declassified documents released by the British government in 2017 from a secret diplomatic cable by Sir Alan Donald, the country’s ambassador to China at the time of the protests, claimed that at least 10,000 were killed.
Government efforts to erase the legacy of June 4 have backfired, prompting activists in China and Taiwan to commemorate the violent suppression by any means necessary.
Reports indicate that the activist and filmmaker Huang Huang was detained by Chinese authorities in the early hours of May 17 after he had tweeted a political meme earlier that morning, which featured a liquor bottle marked “64.” That number is commonly used to memorialize the Tiananmen Square protests, and according to ArtAsiaPacific, the type of alcohol inside the bottle is called baijiu, which is a close homonym to the Chinese characters for “89,” ba jiu. Last month, four men were sentenced to several years in jail for recreating the baijiu bottles with a label that read, “Always remember June 4, 1989.” Having been arrested in 2016, they’ve already served three years in jail for what human rights groups told the publication France24 were crimes of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Meanwhile, a Taiwan artist by the name of Shake has installed an inflatable “tank man” sculpture near the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. The work recreates the famous photo of a man in a white shirt, who has never been officially identified, standing in front of a convoy of tanks, which has since become a symbol of peaceful resistance around the world. After the image was taken, the man was later pulled away from the scene by two men.
“As a Taiwanese I hope I can help China to also achieve democracy one day,” Shake told Reuters. “I think it is important to the Taiwanese people to continue discussing this topic — preventing people from forgetting this event and reminding the Taiwanese people that the regime in China is dangerous.”
Outside of mainland China, locales within Taiwan and Hong Kong are planning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
In 1962, Andy Warhol desperately wanted to be like his accomplished new pal, Marisol.
An exhibition of Ambrose Rhapsody Murray’s collages of textiles and sequins seek to capture the essence of her Black women figures as spirits.
Yemen Blues brings their sonic blend of Yemenite, West African, and Jazz back to Joe’s Pub in New York City this December, featuring opener Ahmed Alshaiba.
Saldamando portrays people isolated at home, waiting out a public health crisis.
Throughout 2021, Indigenous water protectors and climate justice groups have distributed copyright-free artworks supporting recent anti-pipeline protests in Minnesota.
Join designers, artists, educators, and publishers, including Sonel Breslav, Printed Matter’s Director of Fairs and Editions, for talks and conversations exploring artist book publishing.
An art historian and food and wine writer, Leonard Barkan roves from Pompeiian mosaics to Bible passages to Shakespearean plays in search of food and drink.
Nothing is more boring than reducing Italian American identity into stereotypes, but artist John Avelluto avoids that with his wide-ranging aesthetic appetite.
Students can expect to pay significantly less than half the cost of attendance of equivalent private graduate programs, thanks to the college’s position in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
“A Fountain for Survivors” is a protective, pink cocoon in New York City’s busiest district.
75% of NFTs sell for an average of $15, study says.
Online, people are calling the courtroom drawing of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice “creepy” and “horrific.”