Censored on Arrival

Issue: 
Spring 2019
Author(s): 

In 2015, artist, architect and anarchist Adrian Blackwell contributed a sculptural installation, Mirrored Circles for Ba Jin, to an exhibition of public art by four Canadian artists curated by Yan Wu (‘Subtle Gesture’ was an offsite contribution to that year’s ‘Shanghai Urban Space Art Season’).1 Mirrored Circles for Ba Jin was composed of six mirrored stainless-steel concentric circles elevated from the ground and sited throughout a small park in Shanghai’s historical district (Xingguo Community Park). The width of each metal circular sculpture was such that it could be utilised as a bench for sitting, as a table, as something to lean on, or simply experienced as a mirror that activate one’s awareness of the surrounding environment. Differently-sized circles facilitated different modes of interaction, depending on which circle was being utilised.

Blackwell conceived his work as a tribute to one of China’s most well-known novelists, the anarchist activist Ba Jin (1904-2005). In the first half of the twentieth century, Ba Jin achieved great fame for a series of novels addressing the hierarchy and conservatism of Chinese society.