Badiucao’s Chilling Images of Xinjiang Camps

written by Yi Xiaocuo, Sep 14, 2019

Badiucao is a popular and prolific political artist from China. He directly confronts a variety of social and political issues in his work. He uses his art to challenge censorship and dictatorship in China. His work was used by Amnesty International, Freedom House, BBC, CNN and China Digital Times and exhibited in Australia, America, and Italy. He believes history is constantly being unified, tampered with, and even forgotten when free speech and democracy are absent. His art is a record of his personal perspective on social issues, used to confront the official record. He believes art and the internet have the power to deconstruct the arrogance and authority of dictatorship as building blocks of individual awakening and independence.

Badiucao created the work titled “Xinjiang Auschwitz” on the 10th anniversary of the “7.5 Incident” which happened in Xinjiang in 2009—a violent clash broke out after long-term ethnic tensions came to a head, and was also a turning point for massive police surveillance and securitization of Xinjiang (read more here). He notes, “I used the gate of Auschwitz as a reference for cultural genocide against Uyghur Muslims in China. I know every pain in history is different and I am not doing this to dilute the tragedy of the Jewish people. I’m trying to remind the world how evil China’s genocide is.” In this piece, he used Chinese traditional painting elements—an art form that is often chosen to symbolize China. He hopes to reclaim it from nationalistic political representations and create new meanings through his political art.

Another of Badiucao’s work, “China’s Doctor of Death,” is inspired by an actual leaked photo from a concentration camp in Xinjiang (see here). This artwork is used as an illustration for Tim Grose’s article on ChinaFile: “‘Once Their Mental State Is Healthy, They Will Be Able to Live Happily in Society’: How China’s Government Conflates Uighur Identity with Mental Illness.” Badiucao’s work is an excellent visualization of how government policy aims to re-engineer Uyghur minds.

China’s Doctor of Death, by Badiucao

Shared with artist’s permission (Sep 14, 2019)

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