Red Illuminates, is a multimedia work comprising still and moving images that explores the concept of culture in socialist countries and how loyalty to the state is cultivated.
The catalyst for the project was found in a residential area of Beijing, where ‘Special Criminal Syndicate Combat’ propaganda posters displayed, on average, every 40 meters. These are presented alongside large-format portraits of so-called young pioneers emulating Mao Zedong’s portrait in Tiananmen Square. A white orchid blooming under artificial grow lights, a still from a video work, is listening to socialist propaganda from CCTV (China’s official news channel) continuously for 30 days. With this video, Long asks the question, “could this conditioning eventually turn a white orchid red?”. These symbolic references provide a framework to examine the power dynamics of state-generated loyalty in China.
Since 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) strengthened socialist patriotic education for younger generations. Educate young generations to form socialist views on the world and ensure political security is a primary concern. “We must consolidate and strengthen guidance to the ideological and political direction in the education system to ensure younger generations become socialist builders and heirs.” stressed by the current Chinese president Xi Jinping.
“CCTV” News Broadcasting broadcast by China Central Television every night is the “vane of China’s political arena”. The program is to “promote the voice of the party and the government, it is also spread the world’s major events.” While listening to the voice from the CCP, a perfect orchid blooming under artificial pinky light, it is a metaphor for the environment of children grow in China. The big firewall of the internet, the unified voice from books and other media, all blocked the outside world, everything the orchids can hear is what the CCP like them to hear.
About Jialin Long
Jialin was born in Beijing and is a lens-based artist based outside Dublin, Ireland. Originally trained in the engineering field, she turned to photography in 2014. Her photographic practise uses new presentations strategies to explore social and political issues in an attempt to formulate alternative statements and positions. Her most recent project, Red illuminates was created as a reflection on the culture in socialist countries and the ways in which loyalty to the state is cultivated. It has won the Inspirational Arts Photography Award 2020, the first Photoworks (London) Photography+ Graduate Award, Gallery of Photography Ireland Graduate Awards and featured in JRNL 6 Fall Issue with fotofilmic (Canada), it is also published as a TLP Edition by PhotoIreland.