‘The central tenet of the great proletarian Cultural Revolution was the transformation of the consciousness of the people. Partly this was to be achieved by exemplary models: the perfect model peasant, the model worker, the model soldier – these as shown in the Model Operas.
But part was done through criticism and destruction of the old. The world was divided into the good, the comparatively good, and the bad. There are grotesque images of people who are accused of either rightist views, or of having the wrong class position. These echo several of Goya’s etchings from the early 19th century. The image of victims of the Inquisition, chained in dunce’s caps, wearing sandwichboards on which their crimes are written: an orthodoxy and authority with no place for uncertainty or criticism.
In China, even during the Cultural Revolution, some of its leaders wrote of its “probable defeat” and of “the probable imminent failure.” So the idea of failure – probable, impending or necessary – lines the walls of the studio, an element in the mix; but also inevitably the question of hope behind the failure.’