The Arts Bunker

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Here you find our latest pieces in the categories of cultural and political commentary, as well as our latest reviews of pieces of culture, including novels, films, TV-series, podcasts, and videogames.


Li Ziqi and Chinese Rural Utopia

By Martin Essemann

Li Ziqi and Chinese Rural Utopia.png

This video essay is an attempt to begin the conversation about how we might cultivate a desire for a new type of future in the face of climate change and environmental destruction. It is not meant to be a comprehensive criticism of the kind of content creation practices that Li has made so popular in recent years, but rather a discussion of the context in which it emerged. Any discussion of the ethicality of non-Western cultural phenomena in a Western context very easily ends up being heavily coloured by the centuries of continuing political propaganda, and even well-meaning efforts to promote certain practices might end up replicating the same colonial hierarchies. If this video seems strangely devoid of political critique it is to avoid making this mistake. I advise any curious viewer to look up the references mentioned in this video for themselves, and to make up their own mind, if only to broaden their horizon.

When preparing this video for publication on our site, the editors discussed how one might productively verbalise the damage done to the environment by the Chinese State while keeping in mind both the vast economic inequalities between the West and “the rest” and the much greater legacy of environmental destruction carried out by some of the Western states that today are further on the path towards clean energy production etc. This is particularly pertinent in the context of the Netherlands where the Arts Bunker is located, given this country’s continuing involvement in some of the largest and most destructive multinational corporations. It was also noted that the individualism implied in Li’s almost solitary videos is a stark contrast to community-based forms of political resistance by indegenous people around the globe, and that it might be worth wondering what this difference means. Both points are worth keeping in mind.

References and Li’s own channel:滇西小哥dianxixiaoge我们的小喜XiaoXisCulinaryIdyll
Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2011.
Bookchin, Murray. The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. Palo Alto, Calif: Cheshire Books, 1982.

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