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Artist Flees Beijing After Filming Devastation of Mass Evictions

Last week, Mr. Hua, like many of the people he has filmed, was forced to leave Beijing. He fled the city after the police came to arrest him for publicizing the evictions. He has relied on friends to move him “from city A to city B,” he said in a video posted Sunday

“Now they want to move me on to an even safer city C,” he added.

It was not his first run-in with the authorities. In 2012, Mr. Hua was sentenced to a labor camp for a performance in memory of the protesters killed during a 1989 pro-democracy demonstration. In Tiananmen Square he punched himself in the face until his nose started bleeding, then used his blood to write “64,” the way the June 4 crackdown is usually rendered in Chinese.

He has made his living as a painter, but now questions the value of such work.

“In an environment where you can’t speak the truth, creating art is utterly worthless,” he said in an interview before he left Beijing.

While not a journalist himself, Mr. Hua has an ability to get just about anyone to talk. His videos show him wandering through streets strewn with the rubble of demolished buildings, chatting effortlessly with security officers and hostel owners, who have seen their tenants and their livelihoods vanish.

One landlord told him how security officers raided her small apartment building, smashing down doors and terrifying the residents. The authorities had also turned off the heat to force them to leave.

In some ways, she said, it was worse than the wartime occupation by the Japanese.

Source: NYT > World

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