After open documentation and investigation into the student causalities from poor school building construction in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, artist and activist Ai Wei Wei was beaten and detained by the Chinese government, his studio bulldozed to the ground. Recently China’s Palace Museum has authorized a huge exhibition called The Emperor’s Private Paradise. Given the detainment and persecution of Ai Wei Wei for his art, should US Art Museums boycott working with China’s government in protest of human rights issues?
My initial reaction was BOYCOTT! But then I thought — given the recent release of X-Men: First Strike — what would different characters from the X-Men movie do? The answer would depend on which team you are on: The Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Magneto, or the X-Men, led by Professor X. More thoughts, after the jump.
The Brotherhood of Mutants
Erik Lensherr (Magneto), as all my geek brethren know, is all about un-compromising hard lines; you’re either with him or against him. Magneto fights fire with fire. Translated into U.S. art museum policy towards China, let artists have their freedom of speech or we want nothing to do with a country that suppresses the basic human rights of its people.
Charles Xavier (Professor X), on the other hand, is all about compromise and integration; if you’re not with him, then he’ll try to work things out with you and help everyone come out to a happy medium. Professor X fights fire with water. Translated into U.S. art museum policy toward China, allow them to exhibit. The more we interact and become friendly with China, the more pressure we can put on them to change their ways. Also, U.S. is experiencing tons of anti-sino sentiment, so more exposure for Americans to Chinese culture is necessary. The Chinese heritage is after all a world heritage, one we all share regardless of the color of our skin. Hey, and museums can’t stop protesters from showing up or every journalist who writes about it from bringing up Ai Wei Wei’s story, right? Give the Chinese government another taste of our freedom of speech. Soon they’ll realize that opening the door partially means opening it ALL THE WAY.
So… what team are you on?