One of my current projects is writing a guidebook on calligraphy and contemporary art - made all the more interesting by the fact that everything I write has to pass the beady evil eye of the censors before it gets published.
I'm still not that far into this book - but I can see that writing about contemporary art without mentioning its political content is going to be a challenge. However, even when discussing calligraphy this is a pretty tall order.
Take Chairman Mao as an example. The official line, as I understand it, is that although he made a few mistakes he was basically a great patriot and revered gentle giant among the Chinese people. His calligraphy is so admired it has even been made into a computer font. All of which is very interesting and nice.
But it doesn't change the fact that
Mao was a mass murdering prick!
He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people!
If he was still in charge China would be so far up shit creek it wouldn't even matter if the country had a paddle!
Which is, of course, what I really want to write. So how to get around this curly question of ethics? The way I've done it is not mention Mao's name until the very last sentence of the text. In everything I've written up to that point the discussion focuses on the non-controversial aspects of his life and his particular style of writing. But I think this is particularly lame.
However, the only other option i can think of is going in completely the other direction and speak in terms of “the people’s glorious struggle against the capitalist-imperialist invaders and their vanguard, the religious missionaries.”
(Thankyou Granite Studio) Possibly, I could also mention the fact that Tibet is, was and always has been a part of China. At least if I follow this line some savvy readers may pick up a whiff of sarcasm.
Does anyone have any other ideas?