China: Artist detained for two weeks and then to be expelled

7 June 2014

52-year-old Chinese-born Australian artist Guo Jian was abruptly taken by police from his studio in Songzhuang on 1 June 2014. He will reportedly be “required to depart China” after serving a 15-day period of “administrative detention”.


Mr Guo was detained the day after the publication of an interview with him in Financial Times, which featured images of his latest art installation – a diorama of Tiananmen Square slathered with 160 kilograms of minced pork. In a heartfelt and at times cutting interview he spoke of what he witnessed during the Chinese military’s violent suppression of the student-led Tiananmen Square demonstrations on 4 June 1989 – a subject that remains highly taboo in mainland China.

His ordeal coincided with the arrest or detention of scores of other activists, artists, journalists and intellectuals who sought to mark the milestone Tiananmen anniversary.

“We understand Mr Guo will be detained for 15 days and then required to depart China,” a spokesman for Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade said.

“In the absence of other information, it’s hard to reach a conclusion other than he’s been stripped of his visa because he was talking about Tiananmen,” Sophie Richardson, the China Director of Human Rights Watch, told Sydney Morning Herald.

Read more:

» The Guardian – 3 June 2014:
Australian artist arrested for marking Tiananmen anniversary
Guo Jian held after interview in which he described artwork to commemorate massacre of pro-democracy protesters in 1989
Article by Tania Branigan in Beijing

» IFEX – 4 June 2014:
How the Chinese are defying the Tiananmen censors
Article by Marianna Tzabiras

» The Sydney Morning Herald – 6 June 2014:
China to expel Australian artist Guo Jian amid Tiananmen anniversary crackdown
By Philip Wen, China correspondent for Fairfax Media

» Financial Times – 6 June 2014:
Police smash Tiananmen replica as artist Guo Jian faces expulsion
“The now famous replica of Tiananmen Square by the Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian lay in ruins on Friday, smashed by Beijing police who unwittingly brought his latest installation to its logical conclusion as they threatened him with deportation.” By Tom Mitchell in Beijing

» The Washington Post – 31 May 2014:
China tried to erase memories of Tiananmen. But it lives on in the work of dissident artists.
“Among a small circle of artists, Tiananmen became a turning point, intensifying their opposition to the government and inspiring works that both recall the massacre and assail other government abuses. Over the years, Tiananmen has also confronted many in China’s cultural world with this question: Does an artist in a repressive society have an obligation to pursue not just beauty but also truth?” Article by William Wan

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