By Maximilian Colloredo-Mansfeld—Anglo American University
The COVID-19 (Corona-virus) started in Wuhan (Hubei), China, in late 2019 apparently from a mutated animal virus. Before the lockdown of the city of Wuhan and the Hubei province, the disease was not considered such a danger by the Chinese government, and even though necessary measures were eventually taken, it was too late and a pandemic soon struck globally, reaching Prague in March.
Badiucao, a suddenly famous Chinese human-rights activist and political caricaturist, who is exiled from China, but with his family still there in danger because of the strict Chinese government, has since mid-March also put up posters throughout Prague in an attempt to protest how the Chinese government has handled this situation.
Badiucao was born in 1986 in the outskirts of Shanghai and, after Ai Weiwei, he is today becoming one of the most famous activist artists coming from China. Since he started with his rebellious caricatures career back in 2011, he has been featured in CNN, BBC, and Amnesty International, to name a few. And while his exhibitions travel throughout the world, criticizing China for their actions against human rights, he and his family are naturally under constant threat from the Chinese government.
Badiucao has pasted on walls around Prague posters of a sick Xi Jinping (the leader of China) as well as one of Dr. Li Wenlian. Wenlian was the doctor who was the first to warn the Chinese government about the new virus epidemic, but he was ignored and forced back to work, only to get the disease himself and die at the age of 33.
Both posters around Prague start with “WHO IS,” suggesting that he is pinpointing the message to China and perhaps its relationship to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is leading the guidelines for this new virus and the methods that should be done to prevent its spreading.
The posters that have gotten the most attention (but have now unfortunately been taken down) were put up on the Lennon Wall, in Mala Strana.
The Lennon Wall represents the downfall of communism in Czechoslovakia, thus it symbolizes freedom, universal love, and now has become a place to criticize the Chinese government in their pursuit to minimize freedom of speech, not only in their country but in places nearby such as Hong Kong and Tibet.
Another fitting place for Badiucao´s posters, and where one can still see them is at the Metronome site at Letna Park, at the place of the former statue of Stalin, who is the ultimate representation of Soviet communism. China today is the biggest communistic dictatorship or as they officially call it: The People’s Republic of China. Being so, it seems more than fitting in times like these to use the former site of Stalin to put up the posters of a sick Xi Jinping in order to send a demonstrative message to the world.
World crises often bring out activist artworks and it is a way for artists to not only express themselves, but to also make a change. Badiucao makes his statement with his posters. These are definitely worth a visit, to see for yourself. Just be sure to use your facemask and maintain the two-meter distance between others or simply stay in, self-quarantine and see them here.