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Artists: Lily & Honglei Art Studio
Year of production: 2016
Duration: 3’41”
Medium: Oil on paper, digital animation, soundtrack

 

GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE

 

The title “Gate of Heavenly Peace” is the literal meaning of “Tiananmen,” the name of the public square where the infamous 1989 massacre took place in Beijing. The film mixes the artists’ personal memories with symbolism from Chinese history and folklore and reveals the traumatic impact that the violent crackdown had on a whole generation.

 

The film begins in a vast underground walkway beneath Tiananmen Square (F1), where the thousands of protesters sleep in the twilight during one of the nights leading up to the massacre. Up above, a bus propped up as a roadblock by the demonstrators now sits flattened tank caterpillars. A column of charred tanks can be seen next to the remains of the bus. Across a scenic lake, a girl gazes in shock at the smoke billowing from the center of the city (F2).

 

Lily & Honglei, Chinese art, video art, new media art

F1

Lily & Honglei, Chinese art, video art, new media art

F2

Still images from GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE
Medium: Oil on paper, animation.
Courtesy of Lily & Honglei Art Studio

 

An Chinese warrior from a bygone time sits immobile on his horse in the mud around the lake (F3). Having once stood against an invading army to his death, he now remains in silence as he receives countless arrows to his body. In front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, a political prisoner serenely accepts his gruesome fate while he is being sliced alive into three thousand pieces into three thousand pieces. While the young executioner performs this classic Chinese form of torture, he swallows the offender’s flesh, believing it to be an antidote his own trauma.

 

The body of a soldier is set on fire in an act of vengeance by one of the locals. In the flames, the soldier boils into a grotesque figure that is barely recognizable as human. Similarly, the Chinese Communist Party transforms from a beloved protector of the Chinese people into a sickening monstrosity.

 

Lily & Honglei, Chinese art, video art, new media art

F3

lily & honglei, chinese art, asian art

Still images from GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE
Medium: Oil on paper, animation.
Courtesy of Lily & Honglei Art Studio

 

 

 

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