|Great Hall of the People|
Taken from Tiananmen Square
Here are a few bare facts about Tiananmen Square: it leads directly into Beijing's Forbidden City; it was originally built in the seventeenth century, but was significantly expanded in the 1950's; although we didn't feel unsafe, it had a much stronger police presence than anywhere else in the city. Also, 'Tiananmen' is translated as 'The Gate of Heavenly Peace'.
Naturally, our views were impacted by its history. I asked my oldest daughter what she remembered about our visit, and she said, "It was hard to believe the site of so much tragedy could be so unmarked."
I assumed she meant there were no plaques or signs to commemorate it. She agreed, but said it was more than that. "I couldn't believe such an ordinary looking square could have been home to such violence. It made me realize tragedy could happen anywhere."
"If my art has nothing to do with people's pain and sorrow, what is 'art' for?"
- Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist and political activist