The Former Soviet Republic, Ruijin
In 1921, when the Chinese Communist Party was formally organized, it took the Russian revolution as its formal modal, focusing on organizing urban workers. The Communists, viewed themselves primarily as a reform party that could effect societal change through peaceful means. Establishing military power was therefore not a part of their initial agenda. The Communists quickly suffered the consequences, with the ruling Nationalist government cracking down on their activities. Defeated, the Communists were forced to go underground in foreign-controlled Shanghai. It was at this time that Mao, unsatisfied with the urban insurrection policy guided by the Comintern’s representatives in the Communist headquarters in Shanghai, began to organize peasant revolutions in the mountains. He believed that a Chinese revolution could only succeed if initiated by a peasant rebellion. Through building up small, rural soviets and encircling the towns and cities, he believed that the Communists could slowly take over the population centers, systematically establishing a larger base until becoming powerful enough to take over the entire country. In 1929, Mao’s followers from the ‘Autumn Harvest Uprising’ joined together and began forming the Red Army, enabling him to successfully build the Jiangxi Soviet. Mao’s theory of the rural soviet movement, his integration of Marxist-Leninism with Chinese reality, revived the Communists’ difficult struggle in the urban area.
Dong Fang , Cover from the book, “Trotsky,” 1998
Throughout the course of Chinese history, peasant uprisings had repeatedly played a major role in the overthrow of ruling dynasties. Mao and his followers were thus looking to China’s past for direction to its future. ‘The Sharing Wealth Party’ – the literal English translation of the Communist party’s name, appropriated the slogan of ‘The Wealth must be Shared’ from the Taiping Movement, which had combined a peasant rebellion with Christian belief that at one point had taken over half of Southern China and by 1853 was powerful enough to establish a capital in Nanjing. The Taipings were eventually suppressed by the imperial government and the foreign powers that shared interests in China, thereby ‘postponing’ the Chinese Revolution for sixty years.1
Wang Ming , “Strike to Bolsheviklize Chinese Communist Party”
Exhibition – Revolution
Post-Marxist theory, Jacques Derrida’s The Specters of Marx and Leon Trotsky’s Problem of Chinese Revolution3 which he began writing in Moscow but finished in exile in Alma Ata and Turkey. In the realm of Chinese politics, Trotsky was the most criticized Communist. From the 30s until recently, being a Trotskist was equivalent to being dead in Chinese political life. Trotsky’s writing is no longer banned, but few in China have interest in reading his texts. Are Maoism and Stalinism orthodox Marxist communism? Has communism failed, as it is said?
Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise of the 60s in the yard of the Red Army headquarters where the Long March began in 1934. La Chinoise has never had much visibility in the Chinese art circle, not to mention the general public. The juxtaposition of the screening of this particular film, one that glorifies Mao’s revolution from the perspective of idealistic French youth, to those who lived the reality of the actual revolution, and the meaning implicit in the location of the screening might together intrigue the viewer and generate contextualized discussion.
Vladimir Tatlin’s The Monument to the Third International (a slide of the drawing) and Dan Flavin’s Homage to Tatlin (slides of the drawing and neon installation) with locals and tourists. Tatlin’s Monument was a celebration of the Comintern, which was responsible for the decisive defeats of the Nationalists’ campaign against the Jiangxi soviet, thereby causing the Red Army to retreat and eventually embark on the Long March. Expand discussion to the dream of internationalists ‘Utopia’ and monument building, in connection with the new Chinese dream of a ‘Socialist Market Economy with Chinese Characteristic,’ and the loss and gain inherent in this process.
Exhibition, “Utopia,” New York Public Library, 2000
Object from the exhibition, “Utopia”
Exhibition Panel from “Utopia”
Illumination sign from a bar in New Orleans
News Clips Concerning the Realization and/or Unrealizastion of “Utopia”
Site Specific Works
Xiao Xiong, China
Performance: Throughout the three-month Long March project, this artist will travel with the curator, cameramen and other artists constituting the core of the Long March team. His project will engage in a repeated process of reciprocal exchange with those encountered along the road. This project will start with the exchange of a small porcelain statue of Mao, the likes of which are ubiquitous throughout China. There will be no limitation on what is given in exchange with the exchange itself forming the initial underpinning of not only material but also social relations, a relation to be continued in a long-linked process of reciprocity along all 6,000 miles of the Long March. The devaluation or evaluation of the object in this process of exchange will be documented daily in the different geographical and societal locations.
Song Dong, China
Performance: The artist will carry a mobile video projector to continually project the moving image of a massaging hand on the audience’s face and body, on both ritualistic and secular spaces. He has performed this work at the ICA in London and the Shanghai Biennial.
Song Dong, “In Touch with My Father,” 1997-2000.
Fu Xinmin, China
Sculpture: Tree-root carvings by Fu Xinming, the local head of the Public Security Bureau, a local artist.
Fu Xinmin, “Feeling the World of Steel”
1 In 1934, the defeat of the Jiangxi Soviet by the National army with the support of its German advisor, Nazi General Von Falkenhausen, similarly echoed the role of Captain Charles Gordon of the Royal Engineers, who aided in the final defeat of the Taiping movement.
Vincent Yu-chung Shih, The Taiping Ideology, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1967.
2 Trans. Dick Wilson, Selected Works of Mao, vol. 1, Peking, p. 190.
3 Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), Russian Marxist theorist and revolutionary. With Lenin in hiding, Trotsky was the general in charge who successfully directed the masses of workers and soldiers in the October revolution, the second part of the Russian Revolution. He is credited with creating, inspiring, and directing the Red Army that won the civil war and preserved the revolution.
Trotsky was second only to Lenin in the Politburo. After Lenin died, he lost power in a struggle with Stalin and was exiled. Trotsky spent the rest of his life seeking a safe place to compose his critiques of Stalinist Russia. Living in Turkey, France, Norway, and finally Mexico, he produced a flood of publications and searing articles on the major issues of his day (Stalinism, Nazism, Fascism, and the Spanish Civil War). A Stalinist agent fatally wounded Trotsky on August 20, 1940, in Coyoac, Mexico. He died the following day.
Mao in Yanan, 1937
Li Shan, “The Rouge Series: No. 8,” Oil on Canvas, 1990
Dong Xiwen, “Landscape of Ruijin“, Oil on Canvas
Leon Trotsky , Problems of Chinese Revolution
Vladimir Tatlin, “Elevation of the Monument to the Third International,” 1919
Dan Flavin, “Monument for V. Tatlin,” 1964
Dan Flavin, “Monument for V. Tatlin,” 1967
Huang Yongping, “Traces of a Deer and a Crane,” Installation, 1999
Jean- Luc Godard, “La Chinoise,” 1967
A Village Phorography Master, Li Tianbing , A Guinness Record Holder
Li Tianbing, exposing the film to natural light here, photographed by his son, a photographer, Li Jincheng
Li Tianbing, developing photos in a creek, photographed here by Li Jincheng
Zhang Defeng Sculpture:Tree-root carving of Karl Max , 2001
Zhang Defeng Sculpture: Tree-root carving of Engels, 2001
Zhan Wang, “The Fake Ornamental Rock Series,” Forbidden Citys
Zhan Wang, “The Fake Ornamental Rock Series,” Beijing
Fu Xinming, “The Idea of Construction 1,” Tree-root, 2000
Fu Xinming, “The Idea of Construction 2,” Tree-root and Steel, 2000
Fu Xinming, ” The Idea of Construction 3″, Tree-root and Stainless Steel, 2001
Fu Xinming, “The Idea of Construction 4”, Tree-root and Steel , 2001
by Lu Jie
2003 The Power of Public Realm