Artist Shi Qing will showcase his latest movie Divisions at Yangtze River Space on April 3. After the screening will be an open discussion with the director and a guest speaker, Lao Tian, an important independent intellectual from Wuhan.
Shi Qing, born in 1969 in Inner Mongolia, is now based in Shanghai. His work ranges from installation to photos, video, performance- mostly in a multimedia way- to art projects and events. His work is hard to categorize and always evolves in both media and methodological tools of perception. From behavioral analysis of psychology to study of geopolitical conflict in the globalizing world, from socialist cultural heritage to actual geographical environment in the nomadic space, a wide variety of topics have come under his attention. His recent projects are more focused on everyday life politics and artistic production relations. Besides, he also involves himself in several artists’ self-organization projects (Post-Sense & Sensibility, Complete Art Experience Project and TOP Building, for example) intended to explore collectively exhibition system construction, site-specific art and artists autonomy. A selection of major exhibitions in which Shi Qing has participated includes Reactivation: 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012); Santa Fe Biennale U.S.A. (2008); Guangzhou Triennial (2005); Prague Biennale, Czech Republic (2005); Busan Biennale Korea (2004). Recent solo exhibitions include Theatre for Climate Control (2013); All That Is Solid Melts into Air (2012); Halfway House (2009).
Lao Tian, born with name Tian Liwei in Qichun, Hubei, is now an independent intellectual lives in Wuhan. After finishing high school, he did farming for three years before becoming a college student in the Department of Economics at Wuhan University. After graduation he worked for a state owned enterprise for a while before being employed by a foreign enterprise in Shenzhen. Since 1999 Lao Tian began to spend most of his time on research and writing on topics related to political economy of the modernizing China, with a particular focus on the Mao-era, including a systematic and original study of Cultural Revolution history. He is one of very few thinkers in China who apply serious Marxism-Leninism and Mao’s thoughts to research both history of Mao-era and social problems today.
The production, including script and shoot, of the Divisions was accomplished in only five days in last September. The film is based on the Anting Incident (November, 1966) and explores dialectically different dimensions of collective and class, solidarity and divisions, etc., the issues which are both abstract and non-abstract.
This is event is supported by New Century Art Foundation.
The Cultural Revolution and the struggle against “those in authority taking the capitalist road” involved the broad masses of people in Shanghai. Representatives of many factories and colleges formed a broad alliance of rebel organizations. They went out all over the city, explaining their stand, rebutting false charges, and calling on the masses in posters, meetings, and demonstrations to resist the revisionist leaders and sweep them from power.
The Shanghai party authorities tried to keep the workers out of the struggle, particularly by distorting the revolutionary slogan, “grasp revolution, promote production,” emphasizing only the second part. The workers were told that they must “obey this slogan”—by not leaving their jobs to join the demonstrations. Despite such efforts, a Shanghai-wide organization of rebel workers was formed. It first functioned underground and then in early November declared its existence with an inaugural rally of tens of thousands of workers from the city’s 800 factories. This was the birth of the Shanghai Workers Rebel Headquarters.
Before the rally the rebel workers sent a delegation to the city authorities. They wanted the Party Committee to officially recognize their new organization, and they demanded that the Mayor come to the rally to hear criticisms from the people. These and other demands were rejected and instead the revisionists issued instructions that “those loyal to the party will not participate or support the Workers Revolutionary Rebel Headquarters.” Spies were sent into the crowd, the platform was bugged, and provocateurs tried to break up the rally.
The rally of students, cadres, peasants, and workers lasted seven hours. Then the crowd marched to the city Party Committee, where they demanded to see the mayor. When the mayor refused to come out, the rebels decided to go to Beijing to present their case directly to Mao Tsetung.
2,500 Workers Headquarters members converged at the Shanghai railway station and took over a Beijing-bound train. Another group of rebels set off to walk the 900 miles to Beijing!
When the Shanghai party leaders ordered the train stopped at Anting, about 20 miles north of the city, those who had set out on foot joined those on the train.
The Shanghai party leaders sent relatives to urge the rebels to go home. But many of these relatives were won over to support the rebellion and workers from nearby factories and farm communes brought food and water to the rebel workers. The party and city officials called on the workers to return to their jobs—once again mis-using the revolutionary slogan “grasp revolution, promote production” to argue that the workers should go back to work. They said the workers could participate in the revolution—after working hours. But 1,000 workers said they would not leave until their demands were met and occupied the train for the next three days.
It was at this point that the Central Cultural Revolution Group (CCRG) in Beijing intervened. Zhang Chunqiao from the CCRG went to Anting, and during a nine-hour meeting, he listened to the rebels’ demands and discussed with them the complex question of how to handle the contradiction between “grasping revolution” and “promoting production” in the course of waging the class struggle. Zhang assured the workers that they had support from Mao and top party leaders in Beijing and convinced them to return to Shanghai—to continue the struggle there.
Then, in a rather “in your face” move, Zhang Chunqiao held a mass meeting in Shanghai with the workers who had returned from Anting and formally signed their demands. Zhang said that Mao and the party’s Central Committee knew about the situation in Shanghai, that the CCRG recognized the Workers Headquarters as a revolutionary organization, and that the Standing Committee of the Central Committee had confirmed this decision. Such news was immediately spread far and wide by the rebels as wall posters and leaflets by the thousands declared and greeted this important support from Beijing.
The Mayor of Shanghai, who opposed Mao’s line, was enraged and, upon hearing that Zhang had signed the workers’ demands, remarked: “Zhang Chunqiao signs and catches us all with our pants down”! Attacks against Zhang’s leadership intensified—he received threats on his life, his house was broken into, and rebels under his leadership were physically attacked.
In fact, Zhang’s support of the rebel workers, given that he was considered a direct emissary from Mao, shattered the credibility of the mayor and his Party Committee and played an extremely important role in creating public opinion in favor of the rebel workers. And Mao himself openly and specifically approved the “Shanghai January Storm” and called upon his supporters all over the country to emulate this action wherever it was needed, to prevent the restoration of capitalism and push forward the building of socialism.
Anting Incident, or, a Chorus
1966, Anti Incident
Anting /a monorail/collective narratives were overstocked in one direction
Three trains bound for Beijing / hence switched onto three paths of rebellion
Probably, at the very beginning , workers and the masses have been divided into pieces
Who are “the people”? Who are the “working class” ?
In ideologies, the working class are nothing but statistics / are abstracted into collective and class
Thompson believes the working class forms only after they themselves think so
They are neither the objective economic base nor the inherent political fate
Anting rebel groups rose up in a way in contingency
Collective takes shape in the ceaseless division and identification during struggle
Also, division and identification never cease themselves
Every group is bound to collapse
Everyone of the masses is bound to be excluded out
A real collective is destined to coexist with divisions and conflicts
Division never stops, so do absorption and addition
The later ratification, from the power and legitimacy, is always required
The seizing of power, owing to stimulus, is always a step behind
Tampering with Shanghai Commune
Is the Paris Commune ideal’s bending to the technocracy
A true division
Collective accumulation of public politics is unlimitedly privatized by the politics
New distribution inequality triggers new conflict
Just as workers who seized the power become immediately the saboteurs against workers union
The principle of equality shall be employed immediately to fight against the new inequality
Division is a revolt against aggregation
Aggregation is a part of bureaucratic conspiracy
Division wrought self-awareness /new direction
Division is not an ever further linear departure/ but constantly returning and repeating
Only by ceaselessly dividing the being-together is possible
Only by ceaselessly dividing the rebels can truly destruct the vested interest that is solidifying inside group
Division is the leeches in bureaucratic politics
The working class can chorus with dissents
More different, more sound
Every worker is a collective themselves /an ism themselves
Every worker shall constantly modify their own political settlement
When next turnout turns up / lie on the rail/ just like the rebels in Anting