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Opening remarks 5:45pm
In partnership with Sydney Democracy Network and Sydney Fringe Festival, Archibald finalist Wang Xu exhibits for the first time a series of works called “The silenced: from 1957 until today”, which pays homage to so-called ‘rightists’ who dared to speak out for democracy and freedom of speech in China.
In 1957 when Mao Zedong announced ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred opinions contend’, it was an appeal for advice from intellectuals on how to reform the Chinese Communist Party. However, he had not anticipated that a significant number would criticise the CCP’s one-party dictatorship. Mao responded by secretly launching the Anti-Rightist Movement. More than 550,000 intellectuals were branded ‘rightists’ and most were sent to labour camps, where large numbers died as a result of starvation, excessive physical exertion and suicide.
Born in China, Wang came to Australia after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. In 2009 and 2012, he interviewed and filmed more than 140 ‘rightist’ survivors, who are mostly now in their 70s and 80s and still waiting for a public apology and compensation. These are some of them.
“The silenced: from 1957 until today” will be opened on Saturday 27th September by Dr John Yu AC, eminent paediatrician, expert on the decorative arts of South East Asia, and Australian of the Year 1996.