Sunday, August 10, 2008


The reason for Pollack's response is the following strange article.

A SIGG JOKE by Charlie Finch

In 1898, the Empress Dowager of China announced, "As newspapers only
serve to excite the masses to subvert the present order of things and
the editors concerned are composed of the dregs of the literary
classes, we hereby command the entire suppression of all newspapers
published within the Empire, while the editors connected with them
are to be arrested and punished with the utmost rigors of the law."

Not much has changed. Last week, following a March concert in
Shanghai at which the singer (and wife of Matthew Barney) Bjork
shouted "Tibet! Tibet!", the Chinese government announced its
intention to suppress any performer whose expression denigrated "the
nationality of China." One of the few honest and outspoken Chinese
artists, Huang Yong Ping, calls for the cancellation of the Olympics
in the current number of the Art Newspaper. In that same issue,
collector Ian Charles Stewart, based in Beijing, sums up Chinese
contemporary in these words, "Most work here exhibits little content
or attitude beyond, perhaps, comments on conspicuous consumption and
the occasional one-liner visual gag. . . . The lack of a truly
perceptive, self-analytical and self-critical art movement is also
evidence of a willingness to not rock the boat when things are going
so well."

I have argued in Artnet Magazine that the production and marketing of
Chinese contemporary art is a deliberate attempt of the Chinese
government, in the person of the Chinese Army ex-officers who run the
state's corporate art machine, to homogenize the brutality of the
Beijing dictatorship towards Greater China and the wider world [see
"Fear Strikes Out," Apr. 18, 2008, and "China Dollars," Oct. 18,
2007]. In the current issue of ArtAsiaPacific, Uli Sigg, former Swiss
ambassador to China and North Korea, attacks, in a self-penned piece,
my call for collectors not to buy Chinese art as a protest against
China's continued suppression of true expression.

Mr. Sigg asks if we should boycott art produced in America during the
Bush Administration. Well, if said art was wholly financed by the
government and consisted of innocuous paeans to the greatness of
America, of course we should. A prominent collector of Chinese
contemporary himself, Mr. Sigg is perhaps worried that the value of
his holdings might decrease if the Chinese Communist Party were
challenged by true artistic freedom. He ignores the fact that China
has no freedom of speech or assembly, no trial by jury, no habeas
corpus. The Chinese government continues to suppress its dissidents,
poets and politically active artists, laughing all the way to the
bank at Mr. Sigg and his collector running dogs.

The Chinese government has also done body scans of 100,000 Falun Gong
detainees -- of their "harvestable organs" only. Abortion in China is
not a "choice," it is forced on women who wish to bear more than one
child. And for you pet lovers, China is also exterminating stray cats
in Beijing in preparation for the Olympics. This is a totalitarian
society which no more deserves the Olympics than Nazi Germany did in
1936. The fact that U.S businesses, athletes and media patronize it
is a disgrace. Hitler had his sympathizers in the West, as well.
Switzerland accommodated Hitler, Mr. Sigg. I suggest you lift your
head out of your Chinese collection and breathe the air of freedom,
for a change.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula
(Smart Art Press).

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