All posts tagged: Hotan

Liu Xiaodong’s “Hotan Project” and the Xinjiang Biennale

In 2012 Liu Xiaodong was named the “most socially aware figure of the year” by Art Gallery magazine. He had just completed his Hotan Project in the deep south of Xinjiang. Utilizing his famously “plein air” method, Liu set up his giant life-sized canvases in the middle of a Hotan river floodplain and lived with Uyghur jade pickers. He spent the summer with them in the dust and the heat; in shelters made of stones and earth. In Art Gallery’s assessment of his project he attempted to capture “the rhythms of people’s lives and the status of their survival.” This is not the first difficult project Liu has carried out. Liu is famous for them. From the Three Gorges Dam, to the Wenchuan earthquake site, to the Tibetan plateau, to inner city youth in Boston, to his most recent project “between Palestinians and Israelis,” Liu seems fascinated by difference, trauma and hardship. Perhaps this related to his position in the Chinese avant-garde art scene. If you look through Ai Weiwei’s images from his time in …

The “Real” Hong Qi, Bob Dylan, and Ürümchi

This is part 2 of our look at Hong Qi, a Uyghur folksinger who grew up Han. Hong Qi discovered Bob Dylan in 2001. That was the year he heard “Blowin’ in the Wind” for the first time. Speaking in an interview a decade later, he said he liked Dylan’s confidence — the feeling he evoked with his broken voice. Although Hong Qi says his English is “very bad,” the imagery in Dylan’s lyrics touched him deeply. Over the past decade, he says he has become a Dylan fan. “I like all his songs, all of his fascinating imagery. I respect his political stance. My songwriting is influenced by him.” In short, Dylan has become Hong Qi’s idol. His intensity and productivity inspires him. Writing in a blog post in 2009, he mused: “His music is not that intense, which enables you to get the force of his appeal. His songs are rough, which helps you understand their warmth elliptically; he is protesting something, shouting something, which I can comprehend across languages. There is no way not to, because he …

Hong Qi, the Uyghur Folksinger who grew up Han

The Uyghur Chinese musician and poet Hong Qi celebrated his forty-first birthday last May 6. He doesn’t know if that day was really his birthday. He said his mother just guessed. There is a lot that Hong Qi doesn’t know about his origins. He is one of those rare Uyghurs who grew up thinking he was Han. Hong Qi was born into a situation of extreme poverty. Hotan—the prefecture in the south of Xinjiang where he lived until age three—is the poorest prefecture in the nation. According to government statistics, in 2012 the average per capita income for the 2 million Uyghurs in Hotan was $183. Although he was born in a prefecture where the population was more than 90 percent Uyghur, Hong Qi didn’t realize he was Uyghur until he was 16. That was when his Han parents told him he was adopted. Like many military families in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Hong Qi moved a lot as a kid. He spent significant portions of his childhood in Ürümchi. He read a …