Unless you’ve been living under a rock- you know about all the detentions, disappearances, and shootings of people in China who have been outspoken about the ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Needless to say, I was shocked to hear the news that a friend of ours from Brooklyn was just arrested with 4 others for holding up a banner near the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, on Aug. 19 around 11 p.m. spelling out the message Free Tibet in Chinese and English using blue L.E.D. lights. Fortunately this was followed by info that they are safely on their way home.
This banner was co-created with the help of Graffiti Research Lab member James Powderly who was also arrested and is currently being detained due to his plan to use his invention, “The Green Chinese Lantern,” a 400 milliwatt handheld green laser with micro-stencils to beam a Free Tibet message on a Beijing landmark, possibly Tiananmen Square.
Prior to this planned action, Powderly’s invitation to participate in Synthetic Times, a new media art exhibition at Beijing’s National Media Art Museum of China, was revoked, after he expressed indignation that the work must be approved by the Chinese government.
According to G.R.L’s press release:
James is proud to have been kicked out of the Synthetic Times new media art exhibition in Beijing because he wouldn’t censor his little art project. James wonders why organizations like the MoMA, Parsons, Eyebeam, Ars Electronica and many other arts and cultural institutions around the world who claim to support free speech and expression would participate in a show like this. But they did! It was after being kicked to the curb by the show’s curator that James connected with Students for a Free Tibet and decided he would go to China anyway and do what he though was right in support of Tibet, Taiwan, free speech and the people of China. James lives, if indeed he is alive, in the County of Kings, Brooklyn, and teaches at the Communication Design and Technology program at Parsons the New School for Design.
The NY Times reported that,
Two video bloggers, Brian Comley, 28, and Jeffrey Rae, 28, were with James when he was detained. On Tuesday night, he sent a text message to a friend saying he had been held since 3 a.m. on Monday. His current whereabouts are unknown.
I hope James is safe and released soon. I also hope that attention continues to be drawn to the violence and repression sanctioned by the Chinese government. The price of protest for Chinese citizens is atrocious. Most recently those who applied to the Chinese government’s designated Olympic protest zones were rejected, disappeared and detained, and sentenced to “re-education through labor.”