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We are only a few days away from Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, yet behind the “spectacle” that Xi Jinping is hoping to offer to the international community grave human rights violations continue to take place. The Games which will start on Feb. 4 are seen by the CCP as a “sportswashing opportunity” to cover up the relentless suppression of dissenting voices, the weaponisation of surveillance technologies, the internment camps in the Xinjiang region as well as repression in Hong Kong and Tibet.

It is against this backdrop that Badiucao’s satirical and thoughtful artwork, incl. his collection dedicated to the upcoming Olympics Games, turns our attention to the ongoing atrocities in China, the country of origin of the exiled artist. Each illustration of the Olympics series is a visual condemnation of Xi Jinping’s repressive methods and an open-hearted call to boycott the Games. The Václav Havel Prize Laureate, whose identity remained anonymous for years, is now an internationally recognised artist whose production has shaken CCP’s ideological and moral structures. 

We went to see Badiucao’s first solo exhibition “China Is (Not) Nearby” at Museo di Santa Giulia Brescia, Italy, which right before the inauguration sparked indignation among the staff of the Chinese embassy in Rome who demanded the exhibition to be “cancelled”. The artivist’s political cartoons, installations and paintings expose the CCP’s nostalgia for Mao, the mishandling of the pandemic and many other topical issues which remind us that freedom is a non-negotiable human right. 

This post is the first of our series “InsubordinART”: every month we will pick an artivist whose work helps us to reflect on what is happening in the world. 

Watch “China’s Artful Dissident”, a documentary about Badiucao to discover his work! 

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Human Rights Foundation, Museo di Santa Giulia, Festival della Pace