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From Ai Weiwei, a Portrait of Wuhan’s Draconian Covid Lockdown

作者:admin 2020-08-23

From Ai Weiwei, a Portrait of Wuhan’s Draconian Covid Lockdown  第1张

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  • Aug. 21, 2020

LONDON — In January, the Chinese city of Wuhan became the first in the world to undergo a lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In many ways this crucial period remains a mystery, with few images escaping the censors’ grasp.

A new film by the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei helps fill in some of that missing history. Although now living in Europe, Ai remotely directed dozens of volunteers across China to create “Coronation,” a portrait of Wuhan’s draconian lockdown — and of a country able to mobilize huge resources, if at great human cost.

“The audience has to understand that this is about China,” Ai said in a telephone interview from Portugal. “Yes, it’s about the corona lockdown, but it is trying to reflect what ordinary Chinese people went through.”

Despite early missteps, China has fared better than many other countries in taming the epidemic, with 4,700 deaths compared to more than 172,000 in the United States. The Communist Party goes to great lengths to squelch displays of grief and anger, but still retains broad domestic support for its efforts.

ImageFrom Ai Weiwei, a Portrait of Wuhan’s Draconian Covid Lockdown  第2张

The film reflects this broader story through vignettes that follow the events chronologically: It begins on Jan. 23 with a couple driving through a snowy night to return home to a suburb of Wuhan, and ends on April 8 with people burning paper money — a traditional offering to the dead — on a street corner.

In between are scenes and stories remarkable for their rare access into the machinery of the Chinese state. These include up-close images of a hospital being built in a matter of days and an inside look at an intensive-care unit, scenes of medical staff being rewarded with membership in the Communist Party and of workers at a crematory kneading bags of human ashes so they will fit into urns.

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