"Prêt-à-porter Hong Kong Collection 2020"
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” Animal Farm by George Orwell.
"Prêt-à-porter Hong Kong Collection 2020"
We have given our rulers power over us. Who are they? These are the invisible string pullers and their puppets in the spotlight. From the kings Mansa Musa and Croesus to the bankers of the Vatican, The East India Company, HSBC, the industry magnates in the past to Apple, Google, Facebook and others who live from our buying behaviour purchasing power and information. Who are we? We are all those who keep this principle alive. Now we are paying a high price for it!
We're on the verge of losing our democracy like Hong Kong is about to lose it. We have no armies to protect our freedom but we are an army of seven billion consumers ... Imagine what this kind of power can do for the benefit of all of us.
The genesis of this work
The century of humiliation (Chinese: 百年耻辱), started with the First Opium War in 1839 led by the British Empire, US, and others. The goal was to open up the huge Chinese market and become the dominant force in East Asia. Large parts of the population were made dependent on British opium from India, which had a devastating effect on culture and the stability of China. Currently, It is interesting that the new world power China has not only opened up the West as a market but is also the largest producer of synthetic drugs and has been flooding the West for several years, poisoning parts of the population. The story repeats itself in an ironic way. Although that is comprehensible to everyone today, the chief populist of the US continues to provoke and humiliate China and their leader likes to play the game because he knows that he is sitting on the longer lever. Instead of comparing their wimps, they should seek consensus for the people they claim to represent... but the times have changed! People have traded their freedom for the convenience of cheap consumer goods, status symbols and shallow entertainment.
I used a photo as the basis for this collage, which I took at Fashion Week Berlin in 2013. But it could be a catwalk somewhere else in the west today. Because most labels have their collections largely produced in China anyway, or in the case of the Italian “Pronto Moda” business model where poorly paid Chinese workers (approx. 30/50,000) produce Italian fashion in sweatshops in Prato near Florence. It's Local, it's Pronto, import duty-free, it comes probably with sustainability and eco-labels because there is no transport from China-So it's Qualità-Made in Italy. Capisci cosa intendo? E basta! The allusion of the CGI collage is based on the power claims of the new world power China against the West. We have helped China become a world power with our hunger for cheap consumer goods and greed for profit.
I lived in New York in 2002 and 2003, when I first noticed these characters. 百年 耻辱 on Mott Street in China Town. When I had them stuck in my mind, I saw them all over New Yorker's three China Towns, (apparently there are now nine of them, more than one per borough!). The parole was available in all styles, artfully written as Calligraphy or as kitschy prints, framed in pharmacies, restaurants, on T-shirts worn by grumpy old geezers and punks. I asked a few times what they mean and got a wide variety of answers...the sources were questionable and ambiguous... Google was in its infancy and Wikipedia was not available to figure it out on the lazy way.
One night at the Limelight Club, Gandalf Gavan introduced me to Mei Ying, a 6'3" Alpha female beauty of Chinese origin. She lived the American dream and was a "100% NY City Girl" as she said... After a few dates she opened up and the "American Dream Facade" showed cracks ...After telling me about everyday WASP racism to which she has been exposed since childhood. I listened and tried to understand how she suffered. But could I even relate to it without the associated experience? I am a white European and distinguish myself from the majority only by my accent. ... how can I understand what prejudices Chinese, Afro-American, Latin-American or others are exposed to in everyday life?
The City wants from you all or nothing! Nevertheless, I have had mostly positive experiences in New York, which may also be due to the fact that I spent most of my time with artists. I learned something about racism from ethnic minorities as a reflex reaction to the humiliations that WASP' s have done to them. I have experienced hostilities from snooty Fils à Papa, Rat Race Athletes on prescription drugs... Cocaine Zombies also amused me with their high-altitude ego flights and pitful crashes. On the other hand, I've met great artists, philosophers, birds of paradise and wonderful spinners, also a few months later I fraternized with an American artist. We did it with a large knife that he rammed into a workshop table. We crossed our bleeding arms and swore an oath... When I met his mother, she said proudly: "Now I have two magnificent sons and now American blood flows in your veins." Well for me it is quid pro quo like it should be...since I have already fraternized with three brothers from other mothers... ok, then we now both have at least Alpha Centauric-Austrian-Jewish-Serbian-German-French-American blood in our veins... Not to forget the genes in us from the hordes of Romans, Vikings, Slavs, Helens, Arabs, Saxons, Huns, Mongols, Crusaders, Ottomans, Janitsjars… who plundered the world for centuries and raped all the women they encountered and last but not least our primaeval African ancestors.
What are nationalities anyway? They are inventions to divide, tag and rule people in herds. Then they are further divided into classes, ancestry, belief, political, sexual orientation and so on. The broad acceptance of these classifications by people of the Millenium 3.0 will remain a mystery to me even though I understand the principle of the bilateral ulterior motives in the game of master and servant.
I had also experienced all facets of xenophobia in Europe, in my home and adopted country, even between two Villages in Luxemburg or cities like Köln and Düsseldorf. Not that I ignore it, but it hasn't touched me in years if an idiotic patriot was judging me by my origin, I usually say "I'm from Alpha Centauri" In the next two to three seconds, I can read the reaction on the face to estimate whom I am dealing with. Eyes do not lie. In any case, I still wonder about the arrogance of some people. We mainly consist of water, breathe air, reproduce in the same way, are mortal and we defecating like animals. At this latest point, an alarm light should flash in the scull of the self-proclaimed superhumans followed by some modesty... if for no other reason than self-respect...but back to the Symbols.
I asked Mei Ying what these characters 百年 耻辱 mean and why they are all over the place ... she looked at me angrily and started a hate tirade on the West ... even though I read the story of the forced opening of China, the Opium War led by the Brits and the Western Powers, Japan and Tsar Russia, that was, in my understanding, just another chapter from the infinite register of atrocities committed by various other "noble" Christian slaughterers. Although I have read many books about China's history, the classics of Confucianism, Taoism, Zen-inspired me a lot and have read the book of changes "I Ching" again and again since my youth. When I became aware of her profound knowledge about her culture I felt quite ignorant. Many Chinese people were brought up to be aware of this disgrace and felt a deep humiliation of their cultural Identity. Even though her grandparents fled from Mao Tse Tung and the "Cultural Revolution" via Taiwan to San Francisco ... Although her mother was born in Oakland, her father in Boston and she was born and raised in Flushing Meadows Queens ... her parents had instilled in her that the forced opening is the cause of all evil, including Mao and the Communist rule. The parole 百年 耻辱 or Bǎinián chǐrǔ "A Century of Shame" sounds to me like an open invoice ... or... the payday is approaching.
I know British humour is hard to imitate, I'll try anyway in order to describe the British rulers.
Of course, the Brits have subjected China, India and others to enrich themselves, this pirate pack has been raging and plundering the world for a millennium to the present. in the case of China, they were allied in a rat pack with other greedy-blood-hungry-royals. What else should they do on their barren foggy island crammed together in their gloomy stalactite caverns they call Castles, the cellars full of corpses of their enemies and relatives ... then a country where nothing else thrives except greed, incest and decadence?
Even the legendary Shakespeare describes his compatriots as predominantly strange beings, schemers who reflect all facets of wickedness, who poison, slaughter or otherwise murder each other.
And today's Brexit (Menetekel) is the camouflage name for the current raid. The two populists who hide their real intentions behind the cloak of democracy, who don't give a damn about anyone else - at the top of two related States, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. The bullies of the world have lined up to destroy the EU and probably their countries too. It's not a conspiracy, it's Cui bono ?, in English "to whom is it a benefit?" I don't know!
Ok, my British humour is as poor as my knowledge of the English language, but at least both of them enable me to understand this island species in a fractional way. Countless of them are fantastic or at least they have brilliant PR consultants and above all, many of them shaped my youth. Alan Watts, Pink Floyd, Monty Python just to name a few of the great people. I am sure that my British friends know that I am not talking about them but about their leaders. For good reasons, the Irish, Scots and Welsh don't feel addressed anyway. But this is not about the British people... it's about British exploiters and today's populists!
Whenever I brought up this topic in a discussion, most of them responded with incomprehension... or they didn't "give a shit"... They didn't understand the range of cultural humiliation and possible consequences at least, not that which didn't concern them ... like, how the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty led to the Second World War ... I don't believe in revenge, although I've tried it a few times in my youth. I have also seen people hold on to humiliations like a drowning man on a straw. ! What a waste, especially if it is experienced vicariously. Sacrificing one's own life for the humiliation of the ancestors. For the weakness or propaganda of self-proclaimed guardians of religion or culture. Well, China's 5000-year-old culture was humiliated by barbarians, like the Egyptians by the Romans and the Romans by the Teutons... and others by others and others at the height of the arrogance decadence and the impotence of their rulers.
Knowledge is worthless without understanding the relationships between cause, effect and consequence ... a pig greedily devours everything, occasionally also his fellows until it is fat ... it does not understand that it eats itself into death because as soon as it is fattened, it is ready for slaughter.
If China humiliates its former tormentors, that's fair enough, as the Brits say ... However this is not progress, it is just repetition and proof that power-hungry people want to rule over other people at all costs, even if they risk losing everything, even though they don't control themselves. Again, I'm not talking about the Chinese, British, American, or any other population I address the leaders. The ego is the greatest evil of the Homo Sapiens and contradicts the second part of the name, namely Sapient.
Summary: I like the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall "Mene mene tekel upharsin", it describes the decadence of a ruler and his downfall. But that is only one of the countless stories about the arrogance of power, the ignorance and alienation of the rulers to the people. The tragic thing about such stories is that the people pay the price-or - a few greedy sociopaths mess it up for everyone else.