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11th of April 2024


      The Debt You Owe is The Artist Oliver James' first solo exhibition. Inspired by Tibetan activists and their fight for freedom James reimagined her USD series using the CNY to display the portraits of activists from Taiwan, HK, Tibet, Guangxi, Southern Mongolia, and East Turkestan.  
     Since its inception, China has colonized large parts of Asia committing genocide, displacing large numbers of people for natural resources, and cultural erasure through boarding schools and labor and reeducation camps. Many civilians and activists have been arrested, tortured, and killed by the Chinese government for standing up for their people and trying to obtain freedom.

    This series features Cheng Nan-Jung, a Taiwanese activist who self-immolated in 1989 after being charged with insurrection for his role in the Taiwan Independence Movement. Wei Yani, an activist who was detained and put into labor camps on many occasions for protesting the corruption and displacement of her community surrounding the construction of the second largest hydropower station in China. Hada, an ethnic Mongol activist, has campaigned for self-determination of Southern Mongolia. He was detained for 15 years in prison. Agnes Chow, a Hong Kong activist put in prison for her participation in a pro-democracy protest. After her release, she has gone into exile. Hong Kong police have put out a 1mil HK bounty and put her on the wanted list. Ilham Tohti is a Uyghur economist serving a life sentence in China, on separatism-related charges. Adhe Tapontsang was a Tibetan resistance fighter of the Chushi Gangdruk. She spent 27 years in the Chinese labor camp before taking refuge in India. She passed away in 2020.

    This series is a play on the currency of China, bringing attention to the ongoing genocide of the indigenous people, the theft and depletion of their land, and the topic of Landback. China has yet to acknowledge that its stronghold as one of the foremost economic powers is because it exists on stolen land. The paintings are roughly 26 x 53 inches on muslin fabric.

Design: The Artist Oliver James 


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