Looking to the stars as they shone in the night sky, Zeng Liansong recalled the Chinese proverb: ‘longing for the stars, longing for the moon’. It inspired him to design the Five-Star Red Flag that would change the face of a nation.
First raised in 1949 to mark the creation of the People’s Republic of China, a star was revealed for each of the four revolutionary classes: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie. The largest star of all unifies these classes under the Chinese Communist Party.
But what is the future of class in China?
At a time when the nation is rapidly transforming into a global economic and political powerhouse, issues of class stratification and social mobility become increasingly urgent. Already in place are divisive social engineering policies such as the Hukou system, which splits the population into two categories: rural and urban. This geographic lottery determines the fates of millions who are pushed to the margins of society and rendered invisible.
The artists in this exhibition offer their nuanced perspectives, highlighting both the struggles and the aspirations of different groups within Chinese society.
Whether we are viewing the world from the perspective of a factory worker in Guangzhou or a wealthy entrepreneur in Beijing, cutting across all boundaries is the need for harmony and belonging.
Uniting the divide; between the poverty stricken and the politicians, labourers and ethnic minorities, clubbers and cowboys, is the rallying cry – I am the people.
Image Courtesy of the Artist and the White Rabbit Gallery - Photography Credit: Hamish McIntosh