Works of Art by Falun Gong Practitioners: "The Gate of Heavenly Peace"

Wei Jane Chir

PureInsight | August 8, 2005

Etching: "The Gate of Heavenly Peace" by Ms. Wei Jane Chir, 2004

[] The Gate of Heavenly Pace, also known as Tiananmen Square, is a very broad subject. It is an important landmark and the name of an ancient Chinese architecture in Beijing, China. It carries a lot of symbolic meanings, especially for the people in China. Many significant events have taken place at Tiananmen Square and thus assigned meanings to this place, such as The May 4 Movement, the Great Cultural Revolution, the June 4 Student Movement and the Chinese Communist Party's subsequent massacre of the students, and Falun Gong practitioners' ongoing peaceful appeals.

"The Gate of Heavenly Peace" is also known as "Falun Gong at the Gate of Heavenly Peace." It is a collection of nine etchings of photographs taken after July 20 1999 when the Chinese Communist government announced to ban Falun Gong in China. Since then, tens of thousands Falun Gong practitioners from around the world, including western Falun Gong practitioners, have come to the Gate of Heavenly Peace, risking their safety and lives only to appeal for Falun Gong by unfurling the banner of Falun Gong, demonstrating Falun Gong's peaceful sitting meditation or just shouting out loud, "Falun Gong is good." Some of these courageous acts were captured by cameras, but most of them went on silently, followed by the police's illegal arrests and the subsequent disappearance of the arrested Falun Gong practitioners. The artist selected nine photographs of Falun Gong practitioners taken at the Gate of Heavenly Peace and made etchings out of the nine photographs. Each etching comes with the artist's verses describing her feelings. The etchings and the verses reflect the artist's personal feeling about China's persecution against Falun Gong practitioners. It is very much like the artist's visual and text documentary.

Watching the Violent Act

No one knows for how long the portrait of Chairman Mao has been hanging there.
He watches everyone.
No activity at the Gate of Heavenly Peace
Can escape his eyes.
Although everyone calls this place the Gate of Heavenly Peace,
During the Eight-Nation Alliance, the May 4 Movement, the Great Cultural Revolution, the June 4 Student Movement and Falun Gong,
Countless people have fallen or risen here.
The fallen ones always outnumber the risen ones.
History always repeats,
But this is the first time in the Chinese history that the Chinese government attacks unarmed and innocent women, children and elderly folks who want nothing but to practice sitting meditation.
Please tell me:
How long can you keep watching this?

The Portrait of Zenon

In the western countries, the freedom of spiritual belief is natural as air.
But in China many have lost their lives for their spiritual belief.

This is Zenon. He was 30 years old
When he came to Beijing all the way from Toronto, Canada in January 2002.

This is not a movie or a staged act.
This is a photograph of a courageous man
Who refuses to give in to violence
And sincerely supports his fellow practitioners who persevere in their belief in Falun Gong.

The Old Man and His Worn Shoes

Approximately in beginning of year 2000,
A young military officer
Stopped a weary-looking old man at the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

"Why did you come to the nation's capital?"
"What is your purpose?"

The old man sat down.
He opened his totebag
And produced three pairs of worn shoes made of straw…
He replied in northeastern Chinese accent,
"I have walked many, many miles
Just to tell the government one thing, 'Falun Gong is good.'"
The young military officer watched the old man.
The fierce look in his eyes was now replaced with sympathy.

Some people say that this photograph tells a completely different story.
But this is a real story and this is a real photo.
What more do you need to know?

Ms. Wei Jane Chir's Curriculum Vitae
Ms. Chir was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She was graduated from Berlin University of the Arts in Germany and San Francisco State University where she studied painting and woodcut painting. Ms. Chir's artworks have been collected by many museums and public organizations. Frankfurt Daily, New York Times, American Artists Magazine, New Jersey Daily and Asian Art Newspaper have reported her artworks. Since 1983, Ms. Chir has had 12 personal art exhibitions and presented her artworks in 15 joint art exhibitions.

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