China drops out of Venice Biennale over Xinjiang video. The Chinese Embassy in Italy has officially withdrawn from the world-class art and culture exhibition due to an installation on re-education camps in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
- Beijing’s envoys took issue with “Killing Architects – Investigating Xinjiang’s Network of Detention Camps,” a 30-minute projection of images documenting the situation inside the camps by a collective from the Netherlands.
Not quite their cup of tea. On top of dropping out of the Biennale, the Chinese Embassy also cancelled a dinner with Ambassador Jia Guide, with around forty guests expected to attend. In the following hours, the Embassy’s spokesperson released a statement denouncing the exhibition as “fake news.”
- Multiple international organisations – including the United Nations – found evidence of serious human rights violations in the region. Beijing consistently denies this.
Remote human rights oversight. The installation’s creators explained that “architectural and spatial analysis tools have been fundamental in a series of recent innovative investigative journalism projects.” Unable to access the investigation sites directly, “we turned to visual and spatial methods such as satellite imagery, 3D models, and analysis of Chinese carceral building regulations,” as they wrote in the Biennale’s official catalogue.
There’s a pattern. This is not the first time an artistic event in Italy has sparked protests from China. In December 2021, the Chinese Embassy in Italy requested the cancellation of an exhibition by dissident artist Badiucao in Brescia, documenting the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region by the Uyghur minority.
- More recently, Chinese diplomacy took issue with the Italian tour dates of “Shen Yun,” a traditional Chinese dance show related to the Falun Gong religious group, which is persecuted in China.