May the Chinese democracy and freedom

Economic, social and artistic awakening was characteristic of China in the 1980s. At the end of the 1970s, during the Beijing Spring, independent artists repeatedly showed their works in the open air on the “Wall of Democracy”, including Wang Keping, member of the artist group “The Stars”.

“The Stars” was the first avant-garde artist group in China to reject Chinese art according to state guidelines. Their demand for artistic freedom went hand in hand with the demand for more participation and democracy. Due to political pressure, the group disbanded in 1983.

The sculptor Wang Keping has lived in exile in Paris since the mid-1980s and, with the filmmaker Yang Yang, immerses himself in the time and mood of the early 1980s in China. The painter Li Shuang and the musician Cui Jian, whose song became the anthem of the student protests of 1989, also have their say.

Four months before the Tian'anmen massacre, the extensive contemporary art exhibition "China / Avant-garde" was shown in the Beijing National Gallery. But shortly after its opening, it had to be closed again when the artist Xiao Lu fired rifle shots at her own installation as part of a performance.

Xiao Lu's shots are seen as harbingers of the violent crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests. For the filmmaker Yang Yang, on June 4, 1989, not only did the desire for democracy, freedom and co-determination fall under the armored chains, China lost a piece of idealism and creativity.

Arte Subject: 1989, Tiananmen Square
The picture is world history. A single man, two shopping bags in hand. He confronts a convoy of tanks and blocks them from continuing. "Tank Man" is the name given to the unknown until today. The scene occurred on Thursday morning June 5, 1989 in a side street of Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. The night before, on June 4th, the People’s Army violently suppressed the seven-week, peaceful student protests on Tian’anmen Square, Tiananmen Square, in the Chinese capital, in front of the world’s eyes. The picture of the "Tank Man", captured by numerous photojournalists and television crews on site, went around the world. It is still symbolic of the bloody massacre of the democracy movement by the Chinese authorities, triggered by the death of the popular politician Hu Yaobang, who campaigned for reform of the Communist Party. As a result, students gathered on the streets for weeks to mourn and demonstrate for a democratic change in the system. What started as a peaceful protest ended in massacre. For fear of losing power, the communist party decided to use force. The events of June 4th marked the tragic end of seven weeks of democracy movement that has shaped the political leadership of China to this day. 30 years after the massacre on Tiananmen Square, ARTE is showing the two-part documentary "Tian’anmen". Contemporary witnesses are reconstructing this crucial phase in Chinese history. The portrait "Liu Xiaobo - The Man Who Defied Beijing" tells the story of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. “For Democracy and Freedom - China's Artists of the 80s” then traces the time of social and artistic awakening that was bloody ended by the Tian'anmen massacre.