Digital Communities

Dark Glasses.Portrait

Price: Auszeichnung - Award of Distinction

Cyberarts 2012 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2012

Dark Glasses. Portrait is an online campaign to support Chen Guancheng and calling for his freedeom. Chen Guangcheng is a blind civil-rights activist. He exposed the violent treatment of villagers during local-government implementation of China’s one-child policy in Linyi, Shandong province. This angered the authorities. He was sentenced to imprisonment for a fabricated crime of “damaging public property and disrupting traffic.” After he was released, Chen GuangCheng was put under house arrest by the government for no reason. Many supporters attempted to visit Chen and his family, however they were turned away by force, threatened, robbed, detained and in some cases severely beaten. 

Chen’s ten-year-old son was forced to live with relatives in order to continue schooling. He was not even allowed to see his family on the Chinese New Year. Chen’s six year old daughter, Kesi, attended school under strict supervision by four to five ‘bodyguards’ following her to all her classes. 

On April 20, 2012, Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest. On April 23, 2012, he was driven to Beijing. Later, friends took him to the American Embassy. After negotiations between the Chinese and United States governments, Chen Guangcheng was sent to Beijing Chaoyang hospital for medical treatment. On May 19, 2012, he and his family flew to the United States. The family now lives in New York.

The Dark Glasses. Portrait campaign calls on Chinese citizens and people around the world to express their concern and support for Chen Guangcheng. Every participant puts on a pair of dark glasses (sunglasses / blindfold), takes a portrait, writes a few words about their thoughts and sends the picture to the campaign. The pictures form a silent picture wall at to show our solidarity with Chen.

This campaign now has 636 photos and around 700 participants. People are showing great courage by participating even when they know that the campaign is monitored by the Chinese authorities. 

Mosaic posters of the photos are used by NGOs such as China Aids, Women’s Rights without Frontiers, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights in China, The Alliance and activists in China. In the past few months, the mosaic picture spread quickly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and America. To show their support for Mr. Chen, people printed the mosaic image on banners, T-shirts, stickers and posters. The image from the Internet campaign thus began to appear on the street in various forms. The mosaic picture also appeared in various media reports, including RFA, China Real Time Report, ISunAffairs, China Files, Global Voices, etc and was mentioned three times in the US congressional hearings on Chen Guangcheng.