All posts filed under: Art

An Interview on Xinjiang w. Yi Xiaocuo of the “Camp Album” Project

For victims of state violence or those witnessing its horror, knowing how to help and how to imagine a way forward may be the most urgent task. With that in mind, (Asian Art Tours) was joined by Yi Xiaocuo an art activist and creator of the Camp Album to discuss the current state violence and concentration camps built and managed by the Chinese government in the shared homeland of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and other Indigenous peoples (Xinjiang). ASIA ART TOURS: What can you tell us about your background? Why did you decide to start your website? YI XIAOCUO:  belong to one of the Turkic ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang. I was in grad school in North America when the situation in Xinjiang deteriorated after 2016-2017, since then I never returned home. Yi Xiaocuo is my pen name, meaning ‘a small contingent’ in Chinese, written as 一小撮. Communist Party of China often uses this term to denigrate dissidents as just a ‘minority’ that deserves to be violently crushed. I am now reclaiming this term to amplify the voices of those minorities. …

Friends from Xinjiang: Fight Back with Your Art!

CALL FOR ART! Join the scholar Yixiaocuo and contribute to the Camp Album Project   The Camp Album is a multimedia project envisioned as a way for people from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to express their feelings in a safe and anonymous way while raising awareness of the ongoing human rights abuse and cultural genocide that confronts Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim minorities in the region. Fight your anxiety and depression, show the world what your trauma looks and feels like, and take back your power! Minority artists from the region whose families are directly impacted by the camps are particularly encouraged to contribute to the project. Submissions will be collectively displayed online and at exhibitions worldwide to amplify Uyghur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Hui, and Tatar diaspora voices and stories. Exhibiting on a single platform will form solidarity and community for healing, and most importantly, give you a stronger voice! Follow this link for the official “CALL FOR ART.”   Below is a selection of art created by Yixiaocuo, other minority artists from Xinjiang, and allies …

Images in Red: Han Culture, Uyghur Performers, Chinese New Year

While many people were watching and discussing the racial politics behind the use of black-face in a Chinese portrayal of African women during this year’s Chinese New Year gala, across Chinese Central Asia Uyghur women and children were performing another kind of ethno-racial erasure. Unlike in years past, this year Uyghurs were asked to perform their Han affinity by participating in Han cultural events. Although “Chinese New Year” is not an exclusively Han tradition, it is seen as un-Islamic and experienced as exclusively Han by most Uyghurs. In the past Uyghurs have nearly universally abstained from writing couplets and pasting them over the frames of their doors, lighting fireworks, making dumplings, and forcing their children to dress in Han traditional clothing and perform Han cultural myths.  As seen in the state media clip above and the images below, this year was different. For Uyghurs in the diaspora outside of China these images are images of hopelessness and decimation. They are images of Chinese state terror masquerading simply as Han paternalism. They are red images of horror. …

Imagining Re-Engineered Muslims in Northwest China

While perusing the news from Northwest China in mid-April 2017, I came across a story about a Uyghur official who refused to smoke cigarettes in front of other devout Uyghurs. The Communist Party leader was publicly shamed and demoted for his failure to remain resolute in his “commitment to secularization.” Smoking, the state declared, was a personal choice that must be protected.By this logic, an individual’s right to smoke is thus a fundamental form of freedom: freedom to consume the secular. Smoking, like secularism, is a manifestation of the norms of Chinese citizenship. Any attempt at limiting it, in favor of respecting religious practices, is symptomatic of a social malady. The story, published by the Associated Press on April 11, 2017, reminded me of my own experiences of smoking with Uyghur friends. It made me think of a time when I was smoking cigarettes with a Uyghur friend as we wandered the back streets of Kashgar. We were on the prowl for late-night bowls of hand-pulled noodles or laghman. As we walked down an alleyway …