Civilising the Citizens: Political Slogans and the Right to the City

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Maurizio Marinelli


This paper focuses on the artwork of Chinese artist Zhang Dali entitled ‘The Slogan Series.’ Zhang uses a particular technique of text and image juxtaposition to engage with the civic political slogans that were plastered on the streets of Beijing on the eve of the 2008 Olympic Games. His ‘Slogan Series’ consists of large paintings: each of them reproduces the human face of a common person, either in red and white or in black and white, which is literally covered by repeated civic political slogans. The paper investigates the origin of Zhang’s artwork, shedding light on the aesthetics and socio–political implications of a double juxtaposition: in the government’s ‘new citizenship’ campaign, the slogans are juxtaposed with the cityscape, while in Zhang Dali’s work the slogans are imposed on the common people’s faces.

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Politics and Aesthetics in China Special Issue November 2012 (Peer Reviewed)