Tag Archives: Tate Modern

Tell me you didn’t have an agenda in your mind, please

8 Nov

Being the world’s largest developing country and a rocketing economy, it is not surprising to see China on the news agenda of British media. But it IS a little surprising when I see a Chinese artist being under house arrest so easily finds its place on the news agenda.

Ai Weiwei was under house arrest on Friday at his home in Beijing. This story was easily picked up by British media like the BBC and the Times.

Continuity of the previous agenda?

There must be something to do with his recent work on display. Last month Ai has just filled Turbine Hall of Tate Modern with 100 million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds. This is apparently news worthy for British media as it perfectly satisfy the criteria of proximity, supelativeness and to some extent quirky.

Especially after the picture with Ai holding his seeds has been displayed again and again by the media, some impression will be implanted in brains of British people. It is also understandable that it will ring their bells when something (especially bad) happens to this (crazy) modern artist.

But this is not enough to put him onto the news agenda again.

Beyond art

When we are talking about this, we must first know what kind of person our subject is.

The Times describes him as “an outspoken critic of the ruling Communist Party, and a man whose political activism is reflected in his art”. In other words, our subject is somehow in a tricky relation with the Chinese government.

Thanks to The Times pointing out the ruling party, I can hear Noam Chomsky reminding us of the “Propaganda Model”.

To put it in a simple way, the “Propaganda Model” refers to several factors that may influence media outputs. There are basically five filters within the news producing process. Ideology is one of them.

Putting this in mind, we can now to some extent understand why a Chinese artist with political activism could easily find its way to the agenda.

Because the news institution itself has an agenda in its mind.When bringing Ai Weiwei again to the news agenda, it is beyond just art.

Conspiracy talking

I must sound a little about conspiracy now, but so do British media.

Being an uprising economy also means an easy way of being demonized. Plus there is the ideological difference. These factors makes the Chinese government an easy target especially when coming to human rights.

In this sense, Ai Weiwei’s case is a perfect story of a Chinese political activist being in trap set by the evil government. He is one part of the long-term news agenda.

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