Monday, September 14, 2009

Got babies?

Yes, that is indeed a picture of a Chinese man quenching his hunger with...a baby. 

Fact or fiction? Thankfully, after much horror, turmoil, disgust and contemplation which initially arose after these pictures circulated on the internet a few years ago, the truth came out that these pictures were results of heavy photoshop and digital alteration. Photos were once associated with truth but nowadays the reputation of photos have been tarnished, thanks to pictures such as these. Images can evoke a myriad of emotions and this one certainly didn't fail to. Chinese people have always been associated with having, well, adventurous appetites, with their local cuisine including dishes such as dog, turtle, and snake, but now babies? These pictures caused Chinese people to gain a horrible reputation of eating anything that had four legs, even their own flesh and blood. Photos can be tasteful and artistic but as this example shows it can also be anything but- it can be unethical, disturbing, and disgusting. 

Besides being mistaken for eating babies, Chinese people were also accused of putting cardboard in their dumplings, thanks to the undercover reporter who got footage of a Chinese cook doing this in a small restaurant. This video was heavily circulated and even made it on CNN before it was later found out that this image was also not true-thankfully for all of us dumpling lovers! (it is unsure of whether the China government threatened the reporter to say it wasn't true or whether the reporter had really lied to gain publicity). It is apparent that images are becoming less and less reliable, proving that we can't be sponges and simply absorb all the media we perceive. Instead, we must be increasingly aware of all the images we see around us and absorb them constructively, filtering out anything we deem to be questionable as images can be dangerously deceiving.    

Sorry, for some reason I cannot upload the news video showing Chinese street vendors putting cardboard in their food, so here is the link:


  1. the image itself....

  2. I mean there are a lot of tainted food produced in China. The two most publicized food scares are of China's milk and eggs.,8599,1842727,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar

    It is absolutely disturbing how unregulated the Chinese food industry is. Many deaths have been caused due to the tainted food in the name of making a quick buck.

  3. Apologies but as the one BFA candidate in the class, I'm obliged to attempt to defend (or at least explain the image) within the context under which it was created.

    The piece is question is a series of photographs documented a performance called "eating people" but the Chinese artist Zhu Yu. The piece, in which the artist asserts he ate a stillborn fetus (a fact which has been disputed but as of yet not unproven)generated a tremendous amount of publicity outside of the art world or its "shocking" and potentially illegal connontations. Despite the extreme trajectory of the work, anyone familiar with Yu's practice can attest to his critical concerns which span beyond "shock value" and publicity.

    Yu, at the time of the performance in 2000 was a well-established performance working under the guise of institutional critique. The piece, within that context, is an exploration of the gap between morality and legislation -- or what Yu refers to as "inherent" and "instituted" ethics; under his assertion that there is no Chinese law forbidding canibalism.

  4. As a disclaimer -- but really another footnote to this image -- it is interesting and relevant to consider the context in which you probably found this image -- which was likely not an art publication but more mainstream media, that most likely did not touch on the conceptual or critical points of the piece. The work presented outside of its context functions quite differently -- as an image rather than an object, as a sensationalized appropriation rather than its original form and is such subject to a different kind of critical appraisal.

  5. Maybe this image was a bad example to use, but there have been many other images and rumours of people eating babies which were floating around the media in Taiwan (where I used to live) that were not done for artistic purposes, and that were later found out to not be true.