Another exhibition, though this one easily accessible due to its on-lineness - is sleepingchinese.com, which occupies a perpendicular angle to the the first exhibit in that these are photographs of private citizens in public places. Which, as the name suggests, are images of sleeping Chinese. I discovered this on Racialicious, and at first I was horribly appalled at the idea, mostly because I - in my Americentric way - thought that the pictures were being taken here. If they had been, it would have been entirely Othering, and more like a weird safari than any really meaningful work. But since the pictures are being taken in China, it becomes both less problematic and more problematic in a different way. The artist says,
“They talk about ‘The Sleeping Giant’. About ‘The Birth of the New Super Power’ or ‘The Awakening of the Red Dragon’. Often with a strange kind of undertone, which is supposed to frighten us. The reality definitely looks more peaceful.”It sounds as though the photographer is attempting to demystify the Chinese populace to the outside world to me. It sounds as though even while mentioning the Othering stereotypes, he's pulling from a common ground in an attempt to connect us all. No matter what our idea about China and the Chinese are, we should be able to take something from the fact that we all have to sleep and that we all look fairly similar when we sleep. There is a common humanity in sleeping by that virtue alone. Whether or not someone recognizes that when they look upon the images - or whether it is ethical to utilize a population for the intent of going beyond and behind the rhetoric - is something else entirely.