Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Broadcast Exercise

"Sport played a very important role in the Mao period. It was an instrument and expression of the new political reality, as were Broadcast exercises. Both were forceful, regulated, and full of group slogans. They trained the public to have discipline and obedience."

There is a really wonderful art gallery at the mall with a sculpture collection I love -- it cracks me up. Lyvi also loves it and yabers at the statues each time we pass.

It is called "Broadcast Exercise" by Ren Si Hong, an artist from China. By living in Singapore, of course we can be exposed to more of China's culture than living at home. This is a perfect example of something that would be a rarity in my part of the world. Since the art is based on events that took place in China, we learn a bit, too.

Here the artist describes her work.
Campaign- Broadcast Exercise
BY Sihong Ren, 31 September 2005 (Sport: Rensihong Works, 2005-2006)

For most people, school recess is a time of play and relaxation. For schoolchildren during China’s Cultural Revolution, it was a time for group callisthenics performed to the dictates of an authoritarian voice broadcast over every school’s PA system. These endless group exercise sessions form a collective indelible memory in the minds of those who experienced them as schoolchildren.

During the 1970s and 1980s when I was young, the voice of the broadcast was always rigid and emotionless. Every movement was expected to be in harmony with the voice, a voice that was at once our authority and our mainstream media. The Impressions we form in childhood was usually always fresh and innocent. Blue skies and white clouds were enough to bring brilliant smiles to our faces. In the face of those monotonous, artless, and vapid broadcasts, only the girl’s graceful postures and curves afforded us any distraction or delight.

Teachers and leaders regarded broadcast exercise as an organized and disciplined review of students. It was individual exercise appropriated by the group, and hence largely symbolic of the zeitgeist of the time, though we were too young to know it. Furthermore, good individual performance in broadcast exercise brought group honour. However, if an individual performed too well, it could bring critical comments borne of jealousy."

better pics of the series


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