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Mongolian Sculptor Su Lide: Freedom is a Road with No Return

3/13/20

Los Angeles

Earlier this year in February, there erected a new massive bas-relief sculpture themed in the Tiananmen Massacre in the Liberty Sculpture Park loated in Yermo, a small town in northern Los Angeles. Two artists contributed to the sculpture are: the famous free sculptor Chen Weimin, and Su Lide, a Mongolian sculptor who just arrived in U.S. last year. So, how did Su start his career as a sculptor for freedom?

We are here at the Sculpture Ranch located in Yermo with Mr. Chen and his colleague Su Lide along with several volunteers. They have been working together for more than two months. Mr. Su said it’s been quite an honor working with Mr. Chen. “I’m just happy that so many people are able to come together and collaborate on a great work. It lets others know that there are still Chinese like us doing something meaningful. It’s so rewarding that I’m willing to take the pain and deliver the work.”

Su moved to New York from Beijing last July. Since his departure of China, he had been gathering a great deal of information online regarding the Tiananmen Massacre. Upon learning Mr. Chen’s plan to create a bas-relief work about the Tiananmen Massacre, he immediately joined in. “I did not get to see that many pictures about what happened. Looking at them now makes me feel the pain but more than that is fury.”

Mr. Su added that it was not without hesitation when he decided to leave his hometown, but he doesn’t look back now. “When I talk to my friends back in China, they would tease me like ‘Man, you’ll stay there forever’ indicating that I would never be able to return to China.”

Su Lide graduated from the Central Arts & Crafts Academy, now known as “The Arts Academy of Tshua University”. His artworks were exhibited in numerous museums including the Central Cultural Museum in Hohhot. Life took an abrupt turn when his studio in Beijing was torn down after a 10-year lease had been signed and all the remodeling under way. “My studio was actually torn down twice. By the time I came to U.S. in July, the ‘HuanTie Arts World in Beijing’, as you might still be able to find it on internet these days, received another announcement of eviction within a week. I’m not sure if we are considered part of the so-called ‘lower end population of artists’ that are targeted to be taken out. After I came to United States, I looked up my studio on Google. It’s all gone.”

Mr. Su mentioned that in Beijing, artists like to hang together exchanging ideas and sharing opinions, including those of the current problems with the government. Naturally they become the prick in the eyes of the government and are constantly on the move.

As a Mongolian, Su said that what the Uyghurs are going through now had taken place in Mongolia long time ago. “We were the first ones to be purged. With the ‘Incident of Inner Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’, the elites in Mongolia were completely wiped out. My uncle was cast in prison for 9 years as anti-revolutionary. After his release, he came to live by my bedside. He was skinny and in poor health. He couldn’t control the bowel movements and soiled the bed often times. More sadly, he spent the rest of his life in the mental institute. I still vividly remember how he suffered.”

During the time his work started on the bas-relief sculpture of the Tiananmen Massacre, Su had to spend 2 months away from his family. Fortunately, his wife had his back and took care of the 3 children in New York.

Mr. Chen Weimin told us that being a “free sculptor” is a hard choice because one has to deal with not only shortage of resources but lack of income. “What we do is essentially non-profit. Lots of work with no returns, or if there is any, it would be when your work is acknowledged by others.”

Speech by Mr. Zhou Fengsuo at the Liberty Sculpture Park

6/12/19

Hello everyone!

Welcome to the Liberty Sculpture Park. We are grateful that all of you could come join us on this last day of the 100-day commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. As a local resident of Yermo, I am asked quite often about the Liberty Sculpture Park: So what is it? What does it stand for? Why is it here? Are people there commies?

It’s obvious to me that many are confused. This is what I say to them: Some of the dissidents are forced to leave China and exile in U.S., so that they can live to tell others of what happened in China. I also let them know that only in a safe place like Yermo are the Chinese dissidents able to recount some of the basic facts, such as we all have the right to live, and we all have the right to protect ourselves from being used by the government to do abhorring things, the same government that wipes out our bodies and souls, forces us into free labors, treats us with egregious tortures or harvests our organs, that finds us guilty and jail us because of our beliefs or simply makes us disappear. In China, people are owned by the government; while in U.S., people own the government. Liberty Sculpture Park is an altar protesting the communist tyranny and remember those who fight for democracy and freedom for China.

It is becoming a place for people around the world to remember those who survived communist ruling and discuss this topic. It represents a fundamental human belief, which is that the human right is not granted by the government but an unalienable that is blessed by the Supreme Power. In order to have this unalienable right, people vigorously fight for it and protect it with their lives.

We are here today to remember the millions of Chinese who put on protests across China in 1989 that lasted several months, as well as those who fainted on hunger strike and had to be carried into the tents. By mid-May that year, there had been over a million participants in demonstrations. After the government announced the curfew, troops were sent for the crackdown. On June 3, thousands of soldiers marched into Tiananmen Square. On the eve of June 4, shootings at civilians began.

Thirty years have passed. It was estimated that thousands of people were killed or injured, but the exact number is still unknown. To this day, the massacre and crackdown remain to be a taboo for people in China. It is a blank page in the history book at school. Any pieces of information relating to June 4 Massacre are blocked from the internet or Wikipedia. For fear of any new potential resistance in China, all dissidents are forced to leave Beijing when the anniversary approaches, so that they cannot return to Tiananmen Square for any anniversary activities. It is especially aggravating that the Chinese Communist government has not shown any remorse or issued an apology in any form for the killings on June 4, 1989.

That is precisely why we as free people have the obligation to remember that Massacre and voice the protest for people in China who are forced into silence. It is our way to support the democracy in China by refusing to forget what happened 30 years ago. We are building a monument for those victims at Tiananmen Square, with or without their names remembered, to lend our support to the cause of democracy movement in China and call for justice for the people who are no longer able to do so themselves. Now, the spirit of all citizens’ resistance in 1989 has one more spokesman: the “Tank Man” sculpture. The image of the courageous challenge of a seemingly invincible oppressive machine gives all of us the hope that one day Chinese people will be blessed with freedom and democracy, just as we do.

It is a great honor for the residents in Yermo that the Liberty Sculpture Park finds it home. We firmly believe that art is a powerful way of communication. If millions of people passing by each year could be attracted to join our cause, another democracy revolution will bud in China.

I want to extend special thanks to those who support us here today by correspondence, Senator Diane Feinstein, California Congressman Jay Obernolte and California Senator Shannon Grove. Last but not least, everyone who accepted our invites to give a speech, everyone who joined us, Misses Barstols, thank you for coming here today to remember the victims under the communist regime and salute those join the “Tank Man” to continue fighting for a free China.

Thank you!

The “Tank Man” Sculpture and the Liberty Sculpture Park

The Tank Man Sculpture ready for assembly at the Liberty Sculpture Park located in Los Angeles in preparation for the 30th anniversary of the June 4th Massacre in 1989 (Photo provided by Chen Weimin)

By: Wang Shan – Special Journalist from San Francisco

The year 2019 marks the 30th Anniversary of the June 4th Massacre in 1989. Amongst all the commemoration gatherings, the largest one will take place at the Liberty Sculpture Park. According Mr. Chen Weimin, its coordinator and an artist living in U.S., some 500 people from all over the world including Canada will participate in the commemoration. Also on the agenda is the revelation of the first “Tank Man” sculpture.

Inspired by the iconic photo taken by Jeff Widener, the journalist of the Associated Press during the Massacre in Beijing, Mr. Chen Weimin started the sculpture of the “Tank Man”. In the morning of June 4, 1989, a fearless young man stopped the procession of the military tanks with nothing but his own body. He was known as “Wang Weilin”. It is yet to be confirmed to this day whether it was his real name. The photo “Wang Weilin the Tank Man” shocked the world and is rated to be one of the most powerful photos of the 20th century. Wang was also listed among the “100 Most Influential People” by the《Time》magazine. His blocking of the movement of tanks was applauded by the U.S. media as “the confrontation against a cruel State Apparatus by human conscience and courage”. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said the photo “will remain at the world’s conscience as an everlasting image of the 20th century.”

During the past 30 years, many people around the world have been searching the whereabouts of Wang Weilin. It is hoped that the image of the “Tank Man” could become an actual fixture on earth. Today, their wish is fulfilled by Mr. Chen Weimin. The project started a year ago and was completed on the eve of 30th Anniversary of June 4 Massacre, as the first sculpture of the “Tank Man” ever.

Mr. Chen Weimin added that the project was not completed on his own. Many volunteers with excavator at the Liberty Sculpture Park helped build the base of the sculpture. Some of them came all the way from Canada, while others quit their jobs to join hands. Mr. Chen also indicated that everyone who contributed to the finished product of “Tank Man” is a volunteer, including himself. “People of my generation need to shoulder some responsibilities. The sculpture of the “Tank Man” is actually the sculpture of our nation’s spine, our dream and our fights.”

After his graduation from the Central Academy of Arts & Crafts, Mr. Chen focused on production of aesthetic arts, until the democracy movement across China in 1989 and the massacre on June 4th, which became the theme of his work ever since. While many of his peers continue their work of aesthetic arts, or make a good fortune by catering to all kinds of political images in line with the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Chen is content living a simple life. For this, he’s known as the “Sculptor of Democracy”. His masterpieces of the large bas-relief sculpture of the “Tiananmen Massacre” and the “Chinese Democracy Goddess” were exhibited in numerous big cities of U.S. and drew a lot of attention of American society.

The year before last, together with some friends, Mr. Chen bought a 36-acre-land located by the Highway 15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The Liberty Sculpture Park was built on this lot. # 15 is a hustling highway with large traffic including many tourists from China. The artwork erected in this Park are: the June 4th Monument finished on the 100-day-count-down of the 30th Anniversary of the June 4th Massacre, the Democracy Goddess Statute and the statutes of Liu Xiaobo and Li Wangyang, etc. With the addition of the “Tank Man”, it is the Park’s plan to build a “June 4th Museum” in the future, with collections and displays of all the evidence including clips and recordings of the 1989 Democracy Movement and the Massacre. Liu Jian, a former student from Beijing, expressed his wish to donate to the Museum all of some 2000 pictures he took at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The kickoff of the 30th Anniversary will last from June 3rd till the morning of June 4th. Other than the opening ceremony of the “Tank Man”, there will also be shows performed by the participants. The tired ones can take a nap in the tents at the park, just like the students did at Tiananmen Square in 1989 petitioning for freedom and democracy in China.

WANG DAN – THE HONORARY DIRECTOR


Being one of the primary students leaders during the “June 4th, 1989 Massacre”, Mr. Wang was jailed twice. After receiving the Master and Doctor’s degrees from Harvard University, Mr. Wang opted to teach in Taiwan. He worked as the Guest Assistant Professor in the Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, National Tsing Hua University and Chung Cheng University. In 2018, he founded an overseas Chinese opposition think tank `in Washington D.C. called “Dialogue China”. He currently serves as the Director of the journal of《Beijing Spring》. He is also a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center.

CHEN WEIMING – THE SCULPTOR

Mr. Chen Weiming is a Chinese sculptor as well as one of the founders of the Liberty Sculpture Park. Both of his two masterpieces: a replica of the original Democracy Goddess Statute which was torn down in 1989 and the bas-relief sculpture of the “Tiananmen Massacre” were exhibited in major U.S. cities as New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

Fang Zheng — Director

Mr. Fang is the Director of the Chinese Democratic Education Foundation. He is also the founder and spokesman of the Resumption Committee of the Tiananmen Democracy University. Mr. Fang participated in the Chinese students’ democracy movement in 1989 as a student from the Beijing Sports Academy. In the dawn of June 4, 1989 when the Chinese army started massive killing of the students in peaceful petitions, Fang Zheng saw a tank charging towards a female student. In his effort to rescue the girl, Fang Zheng was hit by the tank and his legs were run over. He became permanently disabled with both of his legs amputated.

Wang Juntao – Director

A college graduate of Nuclear Physics from Beijing University, Master of Public Administration of The John F. Kennedy School of Government from Harvard University, Ph.D. of Comparative Politics in Political Science from the Columbia University. After the June 4 Massacre in 1989, Mr. Wang became a fugitive. He was eventually arrested on November 24, 1990. Being charged with “attempt to overthrow the government” and “anti-revolutionary propaganda”, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. In 1994, Mr. Wang was released for “medical reasons” and sent directly from the prison onboard to the airplane flying to U.S. Mr. Wang is the current CoChairman of the National Committee of the Chinese Democratic Party.

Wu Jianmin – Director

One of the students leaders in Nanjing during the 1989 Democracy Movement in June. After that, Mr. Wu started the Chinese Democracy Front and was appointed as the Chairman. He was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Nanjing National Security Bureau as #001 Wanted. When U.S. Secretary James Baker visited China in 1990, Wu Jianmin was one of the students on the rescue list that U.S. wanted released by Chinese government. The story was mentioned in the 《Ten Episodes》, a memoir of Qian Qichen, the former Chinese Foreign Minister. Mr. Wu was released from prison in 1997. He led a successful petition in protection of consumers’ rights against the SOHO International. In 2015, Mr. Wu went in exile in U.S.