Deported Chinese Artist Guo Jian Brings Meat Work to New York

Guo Jian's meat city is an anti-war memorial.

Guo Jian (2014). Photo: Guo Jian.
Guo Jian (2014). Photo: Guo Jian.
Guo Jian's meat sculpture of Tianamen Square. Photo: Guo Jian.

Guo Jian’s meat sculpture of Tianamen Square. Photo: Guo Jian.

Although Guo Jian may be banned from returning to China for as many as five years, that doesn’t mean that the 52-year-old Chinese-born Australian artist is staying out of the spotlight. He has announced plans to bring one of his provocative meat city-scapes to New York City for a new exhibition with Emerging Collective.

In June, Guo was detained by the Chinese police and deported after speaking to the Financial Times about his involvement in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the massacre. His pool table-sized diorama of the square in a state of destruction, the surfaces coated with a layer of uncooked meat, was one of his primary offenses in the eyes of the government, who interpreted the work as pro-terrorist (see “China Will Deport Guo Jian to Australia” and “Artist Arrested in Beijing Over Tiananmen Square Homage.”)

Since being forced to leave China, Guo has remained politically active. On a trip to Hong Kong in September, while Guo was visiting his family, who he had not seen since his detainment, the artist inadvertently found himself in the midst of the pro-democracy protests there (see “Artists Design Logos for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution“). “I’m totally a big supporter,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I was right there in between students and police when they threw up the tear gas.”

Guo Jian (2014). Photo: Guo Jian.

Guo Jian (2014).
Photo: Guo Jian.

One of his first stops in the US was Ferguson, Missouri, where civil unrest over the police shooting of a black teenager led to widespread protests. That visit will help inform his new work. “We are going to build up this meat city. It’s a mix up of the buildings from everywhere, landmarks from different cities,” said Guo.

For the New York exhibition, titled “#Surrender,” Guo, once a People’s Liberation Army solider, is teaming up with emerging artist Marcus Eriksen, a former US Marine who served in Iraq. As part of an artist’s residency, the two veterans will collaborate on the creation of a pair of anti-war memorials: Guo’s meat city and a contemporary, anti-militaristic take on the iconic Iwo Jima sculpture.

On Veteran’s Day, the artists will begin work in a disused space in Soho, live-streaming their progress. “#Surrender” will open in early February 2015 and run through Armory Art week in March.

There’s a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project, and in furtherance of its message of non-violence, on Emerging Collective’s website, you can post a selfie of yourself with your hands up, in surrender.


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