Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)

  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

Mandy’s doll

Posted by mrdemocracy on 15,08,2008

Sarah got ill on Friday, and by the time she was better she had little time left to help me. She had said before she started working for me that she had too work on other projects and her own artwork.
She put me in touch with Jackson, a friend of hers from Uni, and he started helping me online and on the phone.

After giving up on the moving doll, we’ve been looking for simple non-moving ones. All the same, not quite as easy as you’d think. After literally days of looking, we are down to a couple. I say down to, these seemed to be ones people could actually supply. The price difference is huge, ‘Mandy’s’ costs 3.5 Rmb (0.35€, £0.28), ‘Mr Shaou’s’ 21 Rmb (2.10€ £1.69), huge difference. As you can see from these rather unflattering photos, Mandy’s is pretty rough, with collapsable falling out limbs.

Mandy’s doll (cheaper)

Actually, the quality isn’t really the main problem, in theory I don’t need something great quality, its more the 12 going on 21 year old girl clothes which are worryingly sexy, just sends out the wrong message. They also don’t stand up. This is another factor where before I came, I wouldn’t have worried, but now I’m speding all this time and money, I prefer a doll that has ‘something’. So many hours with spent with good friends (patient friends) in Berlin discussing what kind of doll I should go for, and here the options seem different.

Heres Mr Shao’s, as photographed at Tom’s studio.

I am now staying in Jackson’s studio in the Gaungzhou Academy of Fine Art. Apart from saving money, its easier to stay where I’m working, and not have to worry about what time and where we meet up.

As with Sarah, me and Jackson talk alot, and have much to ask each other. Jackson has never left China, but he is keen too. His family come from a rural background, and later on he tells me that his great (or great great?) Grandfather was killed in the Cultural Revolution, because he was a landowner, albeit not a particularly wealthy one. This has set some scepticism towards the communist party in his family. I say only some, from his recounts neither his generation nor the last seem fiercly critical. Indeed, at age sixteen, Jackson was a convinced communist, but later lost his faith. He also recounted making his way to school at 4am by the light of a flame, and returning not lang after daybreak to help with the farm duties again. These are fond memories he holds. Later his family moved to the city to make a living, and his father, with little eduction (his mother with even less) set up several business’, 2 of which failed, but he keeps trying. These stories of rural to urban migration and the lifestyle changes they bring are to be found everywhere here. Another forming point in his life had been being left alone for two weeks to look after factory premises his father had just set up in a nearby city, aged just 12, which taught him the value of work. It certainly impressed me.

I started to show Jackson some of the BBC programmes I like, such as From Our Own Correspondent and the documentary archive. feeling like a dangerous foreign influence, doing exactly what the Chinese government doesn’t like about foreigners. I even explained and demonstrated proxies, which allow you to see otherwise blocked sites from within China, such as this one.

I then have to ask myself again, as Jackson asks me, is the BBC state run, as CCTV? It certainly has british interests at heart, but it makes critical programmes. I know people who work in for the BBC and for Chinese media outlets, and there is a huge difference, no doubt. On the other hand, some of the news is a little conservative, from my experience at protests. The BBC probably reported on the Republican and Democratoc National Congresses this year, but did they show the violence I mentioned earlier?
Despite this record of critical programme making, the threshold needed for critisising the government, or more importantly the basis of the system in the west, is that much higher.


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