ROME, Italy: Despite pressure from the Chinese embassy in Rome, a provocative exhibition by dissident Chinese artist Badiucao is scheduled to be held in the northern Italian city of Brescia on Saturday.
The works of Badiucao, who is living in exile in Australia, is critical of the policies and human rights record of the Chinese government.
In a bid to prevent the exhibition, which runs until 13th February, the Chinese embassy sent a letter to the Italian government that included veiled economic threats and mentioned the trade between the two countries.
Brescia Mayor Emilio Del Bono “responded with delicacy and firmness,” said Elettra Stamboulis, curator of the exhibit at Brescia’s Museum of Santa Giulia, stating, “Of course, we are always a little worried, not so much for the artist’s safety, but because we know there are more creepy ways to silence dissident artists.”
Badiucao said he is “proud and happy” the Brescia exhibit is finally open to the public, after a previous attempt to stage a solo show in Hong Kong was canceled under pressure from Beijing in 2018.
“Because my art is always focusing on human rights issues in China, it makes me almost the type of number one enemy,” he said, as quoted by ABC News.
The exhibition showcases the artistic career of Badiucao, a former assistant to the Berlin-based Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, from its start to the most recent works created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first few days of the exhibition, Badiucao will sit in a torture chair and read from a diary, in Mandarin, written by a resident of Wuhan, the Chinese city where coronavirus was first seen to emerge.
For many years, Badiucao kept his identity secret to protect his family, by wearing masks during public appearances.