Wandering to the next page

Big Whites

84 x 60 cm
Pen and ink on cotton board
Big Whites (dà bái, 大白, big white) acknowledges the Omicron outbreak in Shanghai, 2022, examining the subsequent reinstatement of restrictions and an authoritative reaction that at times played out through heavy-handedness and fear. The work whimsically reacts to the ‘zero-Covid’ strategy – where cities are required to enter strict lockdowns even if just a handful of cases are reported. In doing so, it examines a significant event in history with mirth, using light-heartedness to frame its wider relation to themes of social realism.
The work relates to the earlier drawing of Shanghai, addressing the collective condition of the city as it endured a repeated crisis. Big Whites playfully shapes a commentary on public health policy, questioning intentions of higher powers that are positioned as policies of care. Eighty per cent of its figures are referenced from real life images from online sources. The work brings into focus the paradox between Covid-19’s legacy of fear and suffering and its ability to bring about collective obedience, against the endurance of the human spirit, kindness and love.