Memory & Exile is a multimedia project that looks at the lives of individuals living in exile, both forced and self-imposed, and examines how recollection and memory affect them.
The first part of this project documents the lives of student leaders and members of the democracy movement who protested during the June Fourth Incident, better known in the West as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
In the spring of 1989, students in Beijing gathered to mourn the passing of the liberal reformer Hu Yaobang. By the end of May, the mourning had turned to protests, with more than a million students, workers, intellectuals, police officers and even low ranking party officials calling for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and ultimately, for democracy.
As demonstrations spread to over 400 cities throughout China, martial law was declared, with the government mobilising 300,000 troops in Beijing alone. As the People’s Liberation Army advanced towards Tiananmen Square, hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians were killed.
The Chinese Communist Party conducted widespread arrests of protestors and supporters, expelled foreign media and cracked down on protests throughout China. Up to today, the government forbids any discussion of the Tiananmen Square protests and censors references to it in movies, newspapers, books and on the internet. Thus, the majority of youth in China today do not even know of the event.
In the first video of the project, we look at the life of Rose Tang, a protest leader during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. After departing China, she has lived and worked in Hong Kong and Australia as a journalist, but now resides in New York, where she paints, draws calligraphy, and is currently writing a book on her experiences. Through looking at old and current photographs, as well as objects precious to her, we see how the the memories of her past are intertwined with her current exile.