Prague exhibition showcases work of Chinese dissident artist
The new exhibition MADe IN CHINA at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague focuses on the work of Chinese dissident artist Badiucao. The show has also made international news, after the city’s Chinese Embassy tried to have it cancelled. I discussed the exhibition with DOX curator Michaela Šilpochová.
“The exhibition called MADe IN CHINA is the first retrospective exhibition of Badiucao, a Chinese artist-activist who is known for his protest art and who is currently working in exile in Australia. The exhibition retraces his career so far, addressing multiple aspects of his artistic production, be it graphic, pictorial or multimedia works, which are presented on four floors of DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.”
And why did you decide to have the exhibition in Prague – does that have any significance?
“For us it has a significance because obviously there have been links between Chinese dissidents and Czech dissidents. The Nobel Prize winning poet, Liu Xiaobo, who is the author of Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and the democratization of Chinese society, was inspired directly by the Czechoslovak Charter 77, which was inspired by the thoughts of Czech dissidents including Václav Havel.
“And there are other links that are important and we try to stress them in our exhibition, such as, for example, the reinterpretation of the Prague Lennon Wall during the Hong Kong protests of 2019. So we feel that there are certain relations which are very relevant for our audience, and also of course DOX has had a history of addressing projects which speak to the most current issues around the world. We feel that we are a space that should provide these artists with a voice.”
It's been in the news recently that the Chinese embassy got involved with this exhibition – could you tell us about that?
“The day before the opening of the exhibition in Prague, we were contacted by the local Chinese embassy who requested that the exhibition be cancelled because, according to them, it harms mutual relations between the Czech Republic and China.
“The same thing happened at the first presentation of this exhibition in Italy, in Brescia in 2021, and just as in Italy we of course refuse any kind of pressure like this because we are a free and independent institution. We value our intellectual freedom and we definitely consider any attempt of this kind utterly unacceptable.”