Around 2000 in a London Chinatown second hand bookshop I found an old book of Chinese Acrobats photographed during the ‘Hundred Flowers Campaign’ that have been water colour tinted. The Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom era was a period of history when Mao requested criticism from the people about the policies being enacted. As people gave criticism, names were noted and reclassified as dissent –– at the end of a year many of those people were publicly humiliated and disappeared into labour camps.
The imagery of acrobats are utilized by many cultures and civilisations as a form of soft power to express the aspirational pinnacle of human physicality and mental strength, something to be proud of in terms of what that nation can produce. The beauty of these nostalgic photographs contrasted with the dark period of history that surrounded it. When I discovered an open source algorithm that enabled me to reorganise the pixels according to a code, I knew I wanted to apply it to these images to effectively blur a sanctioned history in order to destabilise its dominant narrative to question what was hidden.