Sunday, 22 May 2011

Power?

A few days ago Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist whose astounding installation could recently be viewed in Tate Modern, was finally allowed to see family.

I say finally, as he disappeared for over a month, being detained by Chinese police and his family was worried whether his health has taken a downturn in the hands of the authorities...

Now there are news about tax evasion and other such reasons that apparently triggered his arrest and vanishing in the labyrinth of Chinese retaliation.

However, as a renowned artist who was and is deeply critical of the Chinese regime, he was a painful thorn that kept pricking the mighty monster.

And as usual, a seemingly all-powerful regime that flaunted its often delusional, but even more often real, might is so paranoid that is afraid of an artist.

It is perhaps the sharpest contrast between the loud arrogant discourse of such regimes and their tragicomic fear of a single person who has international voice.

Of course all such regimes spent decades retaliating against dissident artists, but when a giant like China does it, then this contrast is phenomenal.

One wonders what the ultra-paranoid China has to be afraid of - but whilst this communist giant takes on openly the US Government and international condemnations, it suppresses artists because somehow this giant feels so threatened by a handful of brave voices.

One would in a way wish, for the benefit of all the persecuted artists among who Weiwei is just a recent name, that China would really live up to its arrogant megalomaniacal rhetoric - and let the dissident voices reverberate internationally as if they were nothing to fear from.

But none of these regimes ever displayed true might - instead, their bloody hands (or tentacles?) trembled every time a little and brave individual opened his or her mouth in criticism.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Justice

Some hyper-busy times, but recent 'termination' of Osama Bin Laden prompted another overdue entry here...

As someone put it, after World War II, the Nuremberg trial was there to show that civilisation prevails over barbaric violence. Emotions may have demanded violent retaliations, but reason demanded a process by which the victors show that they are above such methods.

It is interesting then to hear how Obama used the word 'justice'. Presumably with capital 'j'.

If we remove again what emotions dictate, can we call a summary execution-style killing of the 'embodiment of evil' a process by which justice was served?

Yes it is a closure for many. It is a certain and quick end to ten years of uncertainties (let's remove the conspiracy theories about Bin Laden being still alive... Occam's razor is very effective, as with most such theories, to make that cut).

But... justice? as defined by the Western civilisation's norms that we say we uphold? against which we compare the barbaric but calculated evil of such terrorist masterminds and their accolades?

Certain dictator were also executed, some, like Ceausescu and his wife, after a summary 'trial'. Latter case had an element of 'justice' in the sense of a short mock trial having preceded the executions.

But... one, still with cold reason and removing emotions, can not find 'justice' in what happened to Bin Laden. No matter how 'satisfying' the end of this most wanted man was/is.

Bush used the words 'holy war' and gosh, what a blunder that was. Obama used 'justice', and whilst it is not such a spectacular semantic disaster, it is regrettable.