The dissident artist Badiucao—dubbed the Chinese Banksy—is launching a “protest NFT collection” criticising the Chinese government’s record on human rights ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing which begin on 4 February. The minting of the NFTs, titled Beijing 2022 Olympics, happen directly on a dedicated platform.
A statement on the NFT site says that the five works depict “the Chinese government’s oppression of the Tibetan people, the Uyghur genocide, the dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong, the regime’s omnipresent surveillance systems, and lack of transparency surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In the Curling image, Badiucao has replaced the sliding stone with the Covid-19 virus while the Biathlon image shows a blindfolded captive held at gunpoint. “[The latter work] depicts China’s genocide against the Uyghur people,” says the website. The Chinese Embassy in London had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Collectors will have the opportunity to write their own message of opposition to China’s regime onto the blockchain as part of the minting process, “preserving it as a public decentralised record of protest”, the website says. The Beijing 2022 Olympics NFT collection was created by Badiucao as part of the Art in Protest residency, a collaboration between the San Francisco-based Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and the Human Rights Foundation in New York. Ten per cent of the proceeds go towards the Art in Protest residency.
In an online statement, Baduciao says that “NFTs and blockchain technologies not only provide a safe way to offer critical financial support to dissident artists, but serve as an important immutable public record outside of authoritarian tampering and control.”
In December, Badiucao showed the Beijing 2022 Olympics works in more than 20 locations around Miami. The collection was initially presented at the New World Center’s Soundscape Park as part of the 2021 Oslo Freedom Forum in Miami and is also on view in an exhibition at the Museo di Santa Giulia in Brescia, Italy (China is (not) near: Badiucao, until 13 February). In October, the Chinese embassy in Italy requested its cancellation, but the city’s mayor, Emilio del Bono, rejected the demands.
Badiucao was born and raised in Shanghai but lives in exile in Melbourne, Australia. He is known for making political cartoons that typically take a critical stance of the Chinese Communist Party.
UPDATE: This article was amended to include correct information about the web platform on which the NFTs will be minted and also further information about the Art in Protest residency.