Thursday, September 09, 2010

It is said that Mao Zedong started his revolution with pen and paper.
The man himself was a great calligrapher, and found great power in
written word. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao recognized and
utilized the common man as his core source of authority. The
collection of posters at the Shanghai Propaganda Art Centre
illustrates just how Mao instilled new ideology in the Chinese people.
Mao aimed to brainwash all citizens into believing his power to be
supreme. There were only a few artists who were allowed to paint Mao's
portrait, and these few were severely limited in his depiction. Mao
was often paired with eternal, all-knowing imagery, such as the sun,
Christ like symbols, or with the great Communist heroes before him:
Lenin, Marx, and Engels. Feverous youth called the Red Guard enforced
the notion of Mao as a God like figure. The zeal of the Cultural
Revolution is brought to light in the collection of dazibao. Even
though I was unable to translate the words, the intense emotional
expression is undeniable. The ideals purveyed in propaganda, the
happy, smiling faces of Mao's utopia, meet stark contrast with the
dazibao which speak of the true pain, suffering, and chaos of the
period.

Meredith

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