Karel Dudesek

Maybe the Rent Collection Courtyard, a sculptural assembly, is hated and admired around China. Several times, Chinese contemporary artists used the theme for their work, like Cai Guo Qiang or Li Zhanyang. Basically, the original sculpture assembly consisting of 114 life-sized clay sculptures created around 1965 shows a cruel landlord collecting rent from poor peasants, their suffering and pain. In my opinion, the same story is repeating itself in our times, but in a different way. Land is taken away from the farmers and the farmers are put in shoe box-like apartments in newly built skyscrapers, directed to not work on their own farms anymore but in factories. Today, this is a common strategy in China’s provinces to make money and show profitability to the central government. Seen in the wider social context of the fact that the only time spent outside of factories is predominantly spent in shopping malls, this created the role model of Meimei Guo, a girl living between expensive handbags and more expensive cars; rumor says that Meimei received the money for her Maserati and Lamborghini from subverted Red Cross donations bosses. In today’s China “blink” is a desirable formal achievement. This in my mind, I came across an old documentary movie of “The Rent Collection Courtyard” on the Internet. Watching the movie, fashion advertisement popped up automatically around the video. This was a perfect digital readymade for me bridging the not so old China and the new China, both unaware of each other, how they blend together and actually showing blatantly the ongoing “Rent Collection Courtyard” collection process.