Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Silent Film 2
  • Tang Maohong
    born 1975
    born: Lingchuan, Guangxi, China ; active: China
  • Silent Film 2, 2009
  • Where object was made: China
  • inkjet print
  • Image Dimensions Height/Width: 28 x 55 cm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 11 x 21 5/8 in
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 33 x 60 cm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 13 x 23 5/8 in
    Mat Dimensions: 20 x 25 in
  • Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2012.0119
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
“Holding Pattern: New Works at the Spencer Museum,” Sep-2014, Susan Earle and Cassandra Mesick
The works of Shanghai-based artist Tang Maohong reflect his attempts to engage with the fraught political landscape of contemporary China. In his photographic series Silent Film, the artist critiques the country’s 1993 legislative reform aimed at regulating rights to public assembly. Maohong maintains that although the letter of the law allows public gatherings, political reality prohibits acts of social demonstration and protest. Working in this context, the artist photographed individuals holding blank signs in evocative settings such as Tian’anmen Square (Silent Film 2), the Assembly of the Great Hall (Silent Film 6), and a monumental statue of Mao Zedong (Silent Film 9). His use of politically charged sites and symbols as backdrops to his work adds to their potency.
Using digital manipulation and computer animation, Maohong subsequently populated the blank signs with Chinese characters that quite literally spell out the stringent guidelines pertaining to rights of public assembly. These same guidelines assure that the “imagined protests” Maohong orchestrated for Silent Film cannot be displayed publicly in China. As the collective political awareness grows among the Chinese artistic community, these works serve as phantom records of a fictional, perhaps even idealized, future protest.