Category Archives: The Socialist – Mao suit

Reclaiming female sexuality through Mao’s Suit

Summer Transparency  Hu Ming, Uniform Series   oil on canvas, 2001

Summer Transparency
Hu Ming, Uniform Series
oil on canvas, 2001

The oil on canvas piece, Summer Transparency was created by artist Hu Ming in 2001 as part of her Uniform Series. The painting depicts a smiling women with bangs in a kaki green transparent romper-like version of the Cultural Revolution uniform. The uniform’s form fit and transparency reveals her breasts and buttocks. The women is in front of a red background and smiles as she proudly shows off her body. She stands firm and holds the proletarian hat adorned with a red star to cover the gap between her slightly spread legs. The side-by-side back and front views exhibit her entire body to the viewer and reveal two long braids. military uniform


During the Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedong in the newly formed People’s Republic of China (dates) the Mao suit was designed and propagated by the government to promote proletarian values and gender equality. In Mao’s China, men and women were suppose to be equal. However,  propaganda portraying the ideal women did not remove gender but masculinized the female figure. The image bellow depicts a female tractor operator in Mao’s China.

please introduce or make a thesis statement about these two contrasting artworks?

Liu Wenxi, 1970  Published by Renmin Meishu Chubanshe

Liu Wenxi, 1970
Published by Renmin Meishu Chubanshe

In the poster the women has a broad smile and a wears clothe cap over a short haircut. Any trace of the female body is hidden by a shapeless proletarian uniform. Beside her is a green bag with the red star and a copy of Mao’s book. Instead of creating gender equality, this masculinization devalued the female body by making it less desirable than the male figure. Hu Ming’s Uniform Series takes revenge on PLO for the masculinization of the female figure and demoting femininity. Her transparent uniform which reveal her breasts and buttocks embraces the female body. In her painting, the women is just as muscular as the tractor driver but by revealing the attributes of the female body, she achieves a more realistic depiction. Her strong and confident stance shows that women do not have  to be masculine to be strong. She shows the viewers that embracing sexuality doesn’t necessarily mean weakness. By providing both a front and back view, Ming shoes off the girls long hair and contrast with Mao’s depiction of women who has short hair like a man. The red background, collar, and hat connote nationalism and shows that femininity can still be patriotic. The short romper-like suit allows her legs to be on display. By depicting the Mao suit in a way that embraces female sexuality, Hu Ming has reclaims femininity and celebrates the women of the cultural revolution in a more dynamic way that allows them to be evocative, sexual, and strong.

In contrast to masculinized female body in Mao’s China, Hu Ming’s work reclaims femininity and sexuality through visual rhetoric of  military uniform transparency.  If this is the thesis statement and see what happens if you allow it to guide your analysis


Sources: (Black board in-class slides)


Cultural Uniformity at the Expense of Femininity

Chairman Mao envisioned a unified society in which ethnic, gender, and class inequalities were nonexistent. His ideal society was in direct opposition to the Western imperialism, specifically capitalism, that had inhibited the political and economic growth of China. Removing these inequalities was part of his efforts to bolster national pride in China.

need a transition between the two paragraphs

Chairman Mao introduced the Mao Suit to China in the late 1950’s with the effect being to “‘Civilize the mind and make savage the body.’ This is an apt saying. In order to civilize the mind, one must first make savage the body. If the body is made savage, then the civilized mind will follow.” (Chen 361). Chairman Mao took this to mean that the body is meant to be improved upon, to be strengthened. He wanted to uplift the proletariat class, who traditionally performed manual labor,  and highlight their value to Chinese society.

The Mao suit was a button-down shirt with either pants or trousers, denoting one’s occupation as a proletariat or farmer, respectively. The peasant workers wore trousers to show off their “well-formed calves” and rolled up their sleeves to show off their “powerful arms” (Chen 365). how about focus on the analysis of gender and mao suit?

Grey Mao SuitA Grey MaoSuit

For Chinese women, the Mao suit created an opportunity to be equal with men.  Each profession had a standard uniform that every worker was required to wear, and workers were evaluated on many tasks they completed during their shifts. Mao eliminated the benefits that beauty and propriety had initially given upper-class women. In addition, men and women worked alongside each other, and were encouraged in the same manner to strengthen their bodies and increase their productivity levels. Through the Mao suit and changing ideals of professionalism in the workplace, Chairman Mao achieved political, economic, and social uniformity among Chinese people, regardless of their ethnicity and other marginalized aspects of their identity.

Strive for an abundant harvest, amass grain 1973‘Strive for an abundant harvest, amass grain 1973’

However, Mao’s cultural uniformity eliminated the concept of femininity altogether. In advertisements and propaganda promoting the communist agenda, women were portrayed as hard-working individuals who were happy because they focused solely on their occupations. Women had short hair that was tucked under a hat or hair-wrap, and wore little to no makeup. The uniforms were shapeless so as to direct attention to the parts of the body that were visible (i.e. arms and legs). By forcing women to build muscle and work harder in the fields or in the offices of proletarians, Chairman Mao sent the message that equality could only be established by having both men and women conform to the standards of appearance and productivity initially forced upon men.

Farmers During the Cultural Revolution 1970 Farmers during the Cultural Revolution, 1970

Women’s bodies were in flux when it came to changing professions. In the agricultural sector, every individual wore the same suit and completed the same tasks. In the proletariat/technocratic fields, such as the textile industry, women had to wear different clothes to both signify their upward mobility and cover different parts of their body. Men, on the other hand, continued to wear trousers and button-down shirts. They did not have to alter their clothing in order to conform to the rules of different workplaces.

Overall, Mao did not achieve his quest for gender equality. Women could not engage in traditional beauty or fashion practices because they were required to focus on work and gaining strength. The shapeless Maosuit did not allow women to showcase their bodies. Women did not have uniform clothing, but were forced to change their garments when they changed professions. While unintentional, the gender inequality between men and women resulted because the standards for equality were not recreated to include the cultures and identities of women before the cultural revolution. Instead, women were forced to meet the societal standards placed upon men.

could pursue a much more cohesive organization, if take the thematic issue of gender (in)equality in terms of Mao uniformity as the central focus, then explain in detail, how the visual denotations construct socialist female body.

Works Cited:

Grey Mao Suit:

Strive for an abundent harvest:

Farmers during the Cultural Revolution, 1970:

The Red Guards Uniform Meg Fay


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Images of the Cultural Revolution and of Mao


Publisher: Long Bow Group

urls: (

The Red Guard uniform became exceedingly popular at the start of the Proletarian Revolution in 1966. As a result of the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s, (the GLF and the CR are two different historical events) mass groups of Chinese people participated in “the backyard furnace” in order to catch up to the production in the Western world. With tension between parties, the Sino-Soviet split, and his anger for the differences in social classes, Mao was able to rise and mobilize students and young adults throughout China to serve as “Red Guards,” the agents of the revolution. The above image represents dominant factors in the Mao era: youth, uniformity, and political correctness. make a statement rather list of phrases

When looking at this image, the viewer is able to locate many of its important attributes and aspects that prove to be very symbolic to the time period. There are three main people in this photo, however, our eyes are drawn to the middle figure in the center who appears to be a young woman. All people are holding the red book, are wearing the grass-green Red Guard uniform or white uniform. The woman in the center is yelling passionately into a megaphone. The dominating color in this image is red.

In his article, “Uniform Rebellion, Fabricated Identity,” LiLi explains, “it is from the images of the Chinese girls wearing timeless PLA uniforms and ever-changing appearances that the artist attempts to discover the connections between history of Chinese revolutions and contemporary kitschy culture”(464). It is interesting to see that the artist chose to insert a young woman as the focal point in this image. She is passionately screaming into the megaphone and has a very determined and zealous look on her face. She appears to be young, full of energy, and passionate for her cause. This female depiction differs significantly to the post- Mao era art pieces, where females are portrayed as more “skeptical”(461). Although there were different variations of the uniform, the symbolism associated with it became a uniting factor in the young generation. The artist is emphasizing the importance of age at this time and the dominating role that the youth played. stay with the claim of “young woman as the focal point” and explain why so?

Mao promoted rebellion and militants. The men and women pictured are dressed in the Red Guard uniform and show determination and pride. By wearing this uniform, one showed his power, fashion, and political correctness. In addition, the artist displays both men and a woman wearing the uniform to show its gender neutrality (if this is the focal point, then introduce it as a topic sentence and explain with visual denotations). Men and women alike felt empowered and were able to unite and become a collective and active group; they invested their time in something bigger than themselves. The man on the bottom left is holding up the red book. Through this action, he is asserting his dedication and belief in Mao as a leader. The woman in the center is actively reading the book and preaching Mao’s ideology.

yes, color red and its connotations, need a topic sentence? The dominant color in this photo is red. The artist’s decision to emphasize this color works in unison to its importance at the time. The red color symbolizes… and devotion to Mao. In addition, we can see the traditional grass-green colored uniform. The other color featured is white, which represents political correctness and high social status.

Overall, the Red Guard Uniform represented uniformity and political correctness. It was also the uniform that the youth wore to assert their power and feel part of something bigger than themselves.

work on paragraph organization

China in Uniform

Mao Zedong was the communist leader of China and the founder of the People’s Republic of China. With Mao’s leadership came strict principles, one of these principles being, a nation in uniform. The uniforms worn identified the people in China during Mao’s regime. Workers, peasants, and soldiers (the socialist model) were clearly identifiable. In the picture shown the centralized focus is on the socialist model.


The idea of a nation in uniform is clearly illustrated in the propaganda poster. This image is an example of Mao’s ideal collective body.

The dominating color throughout the poster is red. Behind the five main people there appears to be a sea of red, which one can assume are the books that the five figures in front are holding. The man on the right is wearing a Mao suit, the man on the far left is in what looks like a military uniform the same as the woman on the far right. The two figures in the foreground of the poster are wearing clothes that could potentially belong to those with a lower socioeconomic status. Everyone in the poster appears very happy, almost as if they’re rejoicing.

If analyzed connotatively the red books are a patriotic symbol. The people in the image are holding them in the air as if they’re celebrating Mao’s unified nation. The other red accents throughout the image strengthen the viewer’s idea of the uniformity of the people in China. The five people that dominate the poster are the most symbolic aspects. These people symbolize Mao’s socialist model: workers, peasants, and soldiers. Although they are not all wearing the same uniform they symbolize a typical uniform for each class. The figure on the far left is wearing a Mao suit which one can connate is a symbol for a worker. The two figures in a green uniform are symbols for the soldiers. Lastly the two figures in the foreground of the poster symbolize the peasants.  good but further clarify the incorporation of the color red and socialist collective body/identity

A nation in uniform was a strong principle during Mao’s regime. There was also an effort for gender norms to be broken, so at times it is difficult to even tell if it is a woman or a man in certain images because everybody wears the same or similar uniforms. This concept helps support the idea of one national body in China. Throughout Mao’s regime there were many propaganda posters similar to this one that were produced, making China seam idyllic, and in this case making the viewer believe that China is one collective body. the second part, “nation in uniform in terms of gender” needs more support.

Photo citation:
“Mao, Jiang Qing, Lin Biao (1966-1972).” Long Live Chairman Mao! Long, Long Live! Accessed March 30, 2016.






Long Live the Mao Suit

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Source: McKirdy Euan and Shen Lu, CNN: “China: Giant gold Mao statue torn down,” 2016, Henan Province

The image above was taken for a CNN news article titled “China: Giant gold Mao statue torn down.” In this image, a giant statue of Mao looms over agricultural Henan province, a bright symbol in an otherwise dreary landscape. The golden Mao statue is dressed in a traditional Mao suit in which four pockets, representing propriety, justice, honesty, and a sense of shame, and five center front buttons are present. The article explains how this 120-foot statue, which was funded and constructed by businessman and rural communities, has reportedly been demolished at the hands of state authorities.

The image exemplifies how Maoist China, as aesthetically characterized by Chairman Mao in the Mao suit, representing a uniform and militarized society, has persisted into the modern political fabric of China, leaving ideological and symbolic remnants in its wake. Further, the image of Chairman Mao in a Mao Suit stands as an ironic symbol of failed socialist reforms. When viewing this image, one can observe various signs upon conducting a deep connotative analysis of the image:

Landscape: In the image, the barren agricultural landscape stands in contrast to the bright golden Mao statue in the forefront of the picture. The golden statue represents how a wealthy central state in China has often been accrued at the expense of the peasants. The CNN article mentions how the erecting of the statue in the Henan province has been controversial given that the area had been “hardest hit by the famines of the 1950s and 60s, which were brought on by Mao’s disastrous “Great Leap Forward” economic and social reforms” (McKirdy and Lu). The contrast between the statue and the landscape is ironic considering that, though Maoist policies killed many people in the Henan province, his iconic image in the Mao suit is still glorified by the proletariat peasant class.

Height and Size: The sheer size and height of the statue is significant to consider.  Standing tall at 120 feet, the Mao statue looms over residents of the Henan province. The height and size of the statue demonstrates Mao’s power and control over mass amounts of people. The modern statue continues to glorify Mao’s political reign and portray him as a godly and heroic manifestation. These values place control and power at the hands of political leaders rather than at the hands of a democratic public. The statue cost 3 million yen to build, a large sum of money disproportionately and nonsensically connected to the land and population to which the statue was built under.

Mao Suit and Legacies: The image represents a clear glorification and deification of Chairman Mao and his legacies. It is interesting to note, also, that Mao’s image in the Mao suit is glorified in other public locations, including the Tiananmen Square. In these images, Mao can be noticeably recognized in the Mao suit, both a model and legacy of a uniformed and socialist past. This legacy and past as aesthetically represented by Mao in the Mao Suit is in contention with the current Chinese government, as they have ordered the statue to be torn down. any critical comments that can be made about the contrast?

The image ultimately shows how Mao in the Mao suit is a symbol of a socialist era and a political past that is symbolized, celebrated, and glorified by pockets of Chinese citizens. Legacies of Maoism have endured time, ideological and symbolic components of the political era persisting into the modern era.

locate the topic against socialist and post-socialist China and see the transition

The Unity of The Students

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In mid to late 60’s China a movement was created. First by student from wealthy military families who did not believe in the teachings they were receiving in school, so they retaliated against their teachers and their principles. Soon students everywhere were refusing the teachings of the school and brutally beating their school administrators. These children labeled themselves Mao’s red guard and wore either their parents or homemade Mao suits, which were truly old army issued uniforms. The Red Guard linked itself to Mao at first but soon he saw the movement of children as a way to bring forth the cultural revolution.

The image above is an example how the Mao suit allowed the nation to be unified. Now with the suit there were no visible gender differences or economic differences, all were one. However there was a lost of personal identity or individuality and that is replaced by unity. nice description
Denotations: The image at fist glance just looks like a mob of hands and the color red. However  with closer examination these are all students probably both male and female, at a rally with their Mao suits on and their little red book with Mao’s words in them. In the background there is a political building with a very large image of Mao posted on it.
In half of the photograph it is a sea of green and red. In the upper half there is the red political building with Mao’s image and a brilliant blue sky above that.
Connotations: The mob of children that appear mohave no gender but seem to be passionately supporting a cause have completely lost their individuality. Instead of seeing individual students there is instead one group, one cause, one goal. The suit that each student is wearing itself represents unity and also power. Having been what military men used to wear the suit itself carries an “air” of power with it. Especially with such a large group of people wearing the suit it is almost like an army. The same goes for the abundance of the color red, which also represents power, just adding to the “army’s” status.
The political building (the gate of heavenly peace) in the background with Mao’s image, that is directly behind the students but also above shows how the students are ultimately under Mao’s control. He is further from the foreground of the picture but he the ruler, he is control of this united group. They have united under him and for him and for their country. The bright blue sky represents how the students believed that what the were doing, and even what Mao himself believed, that they were doing what was best for the country, so that it could be better. This bright blue represents the happiness that the Red Guard and Mao believed they were creating.
is it better to organize the denotation components and critical connotations in a side by side fashion?

Women’s Bodies: Propaganda Goes Two Ways

During the Maoist regime the fashion choices of Chinese citizens changed drastically. The unofficial uniform of the public was a Mao suit, a buttoned, neutral shirt with utilitarian pockets. These became the collective outfits of the people and they were worn by men and women alike. As time went on the Mao suit became a cultural icon for the Maoist regime and was equated with both support of the Republic and Mao himself. As such, the Mao suit morphed not only into a piece of clothing, but a symbol used in posters, art, and theater. In this analysis, I examine two images of women’s bodies that are shown wearing a Mao suit to support the Communist government, but in very different ways.
define “women’s bodies” and make a critical claim

In this first example here, we see a poster of a woman operating a tractor or some other large  Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.20.02 PM

agricultural machine. She is smiling and happy in her work, wearing comfortable and practical clothing. Here the Mao suit she wears is used as a tool to universalize her to the Chinese viewers of this poster. As the focus of this image, her female body is the most prominent aspect of the art. Interestingly, her body is draped in the baggy Mao suit fabric in a way that intentionally does not show off any curves she might have. We as viewers of this poster are not meant to think of her as sexual but instead as a worker. Her purpose as a supporter of the Communist regime is much more than as a reproductive female body, it is important also as a farmer working to support the country. how about the idea of gender/sexual erasure as the topical sentence?

In the following image, we see a group of ballerinas performing in the ballet The Red Detachment of Women in 1971. These women of the Red Guard are holding guns and wearing the traditional Mao suit with a red armband. In stark contrast to the photo above, the women here are wearing a skin tight version of the same clothing. They are clad in short shorts and Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 5.04.06 PM

high socks that accentuate the thigh and leg. Furthermore, their hair is all immaculately pulled back into a cap and they are gracefully posed within the painting. Their chest is forward and their legs in full view. This image, is intended to show off the female body as distinctly female far more than the other image we see. any connotations regarding this image?

While both these images of women wearing the Mao suit are meant to support the party’s cause, the reasoning behind each is very different. In the first image, it is about the physical power and ability of the woman to be a worker. This is meant to appeal to women who want to work and be productive members of society. The second image is meant to appeal to the desire for beauty and grace. Each is meant to support the Maoist regime, however, they use women’s bodies to do so in very different ways.

female body concealed in working uniform and female body exposed through military uniform: what do the images suggest?


Students and the Mao Suit

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During the Cultural Revolution in China, personal identity disintegrated as a new group identity and subsequent group mentality were formed. Under Chairman Mao, millions of people, men and women, young and old, rural dwellers and urbanites, were all forced into the same mold, projecting a sense of unity but also resulting in a loss of individuality. From the image presented above, we can deduce that Mao especially targeted the youth with propaganda and attempted to suppress all individuality through wardrobe, education, and limited choice.

Continuation: The most obvious denotation upon first glance at this photograph is the seemingly endless number of students in uniform in an organized formation. Though this photo cuts the group off at five columns and four rows of students, it projects a sense of mesmerizing repetition. Because the multiple subjects of this picture take up both the foreground and background, and because there is no highlight placed on one specific subject as separate from the others, the photograph gives the viewer an overwhelming sense of continuation, and makes us believe that the students expand past this photograph’s edges into all corners of China and also into our reality, much like Mao’s rule during that time period.

Repetition and similarity: This constructed sense of repetitive identity dehumanizes the students into robots and clones. For instance, all the subjects of this photo have the same outfit, accessories, hairdo, and are also of the same demographic: Chinese pre-teen female students. All students are also holding the same exact book, Mao’s red handbook, most likely reciting/reading the same paragraph in tandem, and have the same physical posture and facial expression. This almost perfect unity leads the viewer to perceive a void of emotion, personality, and personal agency. Though the students are loyally honoring their country’s leader, their praise and devout following does not stem from a genuine place and instead seems forced. Furthermore, none of the students even acknowledge the camera, either intentionally or unintentionally avoiding all eye-contact. This additional lack of human connection perpetuates their clone-like selves. The girls presented in this picture were most likely swept up into the Cultural Revolution without the choice to accept or deny participation. Mao has chosen them as the face of the Cultural Revolution, substituting their own unique voices with his own and dictating how they will learn and live.

Gender: Another aspect of this photograph to consider is the gender of all the subjects. If we assume that the photographer intentionally chose to capture this moment with only females, what was his purpose? One answer could be to elevate the social status of women. By capturing females actively participating in this social and political movement, it incites a sense that Mao’s revolution was all-inclusive. By emphasizing female participation, we can conclude that the photographer wanted to communicate the importance of women and their involvement in the 1960s and 70s.

Small distinctions: Upon closer examination, though each student seems indistinguishable from the others, there are slight differences in the shade of the Mao jacket and collar that each student wears. Some jackets seem brown while others are olive green, and also some white collars are rounded and shown, while others are pointed and fitted underneath the outer jacket collar. Thus we can conclude that although Mao’s goal was to create national unity through the suppression and extinguishment of the individual, it would be impossible to fully and completely repress personal distinctions. While this photograph correctly captures the widespread jurisdiction of Mao and demonstrates his attempt at nation-wide uniformity, it also represents the underlying flaws and failures of his propaganda and forced sameness which is simmering beneath the Mao suit.

nice organization and detailed explanation

Uniformity in the Economy

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Designer: Liu Wenxi (刘文 西)1975, December

Publisher: Renmin meishu chubanshe (人民美术出版社)

Throughout Mao’s rule in China, he aimed for uniformity and unification throughout the nation. He believed in creating a unified body where individuality was not valued, but rather a group mentality in which his own philosophies and beliefs were the exercised norms. He utilized propaganda, such as this, to encourage people of all genders to contribute to the economy, regardless of their abilities or desires.

The woman: or the female subject This propaganda immediately draws the viewers’ eyes to the woman working heavy machinery, looking very happy. Although it is possible to tell that she is, in fact, a woman, she has very masculine features and her hair is pulled back in the cap. The woman is therefore, stripped of her femininity in order to be most productive in the workplace. This prioritization of male over female features indicates a pro-masculine theory that Mao supported and encouraged. Although this uniform is supposed to be gender neutral, it masculinizes the female, rather than feminizing the male, consequently, leaving the male the same and changing the woman.  This woman was also placed into a field of work in which she biologically is less capable than men. By nature, men are stronger and can handle heavier equipment better than women. By placing a woman into this same exact workplace as a man, she is immediately at a disadvantage trying to keep up and having to work much harder to do the same labor that a man can do with less difficulty, therefore creating inequality in the workplace.

The little red book: The woman in this book has a little red book sitting next to her in her bag. Mao required everyone to carry around his little red book which was all that was learned in schools and taught to children. Growing up on only his philosophies, the people of China were, in a way, brainwashed by his thought. The carrying of the book was enforced, ultimately imposing his philosophies onto everyone so that everyone thought the same way, just as they dressed the same way. Intellectuals were discriminated against as they did not always follow Mao’s theories, and being a part of the working class was viewed as ideal.

the little red book as political rhetoric or education as well as visual element, due to its size and color

The vehicle in which the woman is driving: The woman, herself, appears to be enjoying her time in the vehicle, alone. She is smiling and by herself, and the viewer is able to see her identity and emotions. However, Mao discouraged against individuality and, rather, desired uniformity and homogenous unity. Because this propaganda appears to show that Mao was concerned with individual wellbeing and happiness, the viewer desires this type of work. It is important to recognize though, that this woman’s individuality is not valued. She is wearing the same thing as everyone else working there, and the viewer can see that there are hundreds of other people working at the same place in the background. This propaganda was well thought out in order to promote hard labor to improve the economy, but the vehicle is representative of the woman being only a working part of the internal machine, not the sole operator. machine is the focus but the paragraph seems bit off the focus.

good work, but the organization could be easily revised into: 1) the claim — the female subject/body as the masculinized 2) support the claim in terms of the uniform, the machine, the little red book, and the landscape (titled as modernization of agriculture)



Legacy Mantles (set of Five): A Critique of Modern China


Sui Jianguo – “Legacy Mantle (set of five)” (2006)

Courtney Gallagher

ASNS 2076: Fashion & Gender in China

Lot: 940
Fibreglass with automotive paint
Size: Each: 63.5cm x 48.2cm x 30.4cm (25 x 19 x 12″)

Sui Jianguo’s sculpture, Legacy Mantle, exhibits the socio-economic transformation from Mao’s China (socialist China) to commercial China (post-socialist China).




Jianguo’s sculptures of the Mao suit are exhibited body-less alluding to a Maoist past in which individual identity was rejected. The body becomes submissive, if not irrelevant, to the Mao suit that seems to be self-supporting. Through this presentation, the individual is seen to submit to the collective, which is represented by the Mao suit. The absence of the body highlights the absence of the identity and individuality in Maoist China, where the individual body only existed as a small part of the larger collective body. The absence of the body in Jianguo’s sculpture not only shows the loss of individuality, but also a submission to the collective. The Mao suits appear in a group of five and self-supporting in order to emphasize how the individual only exists as part of the collective [collective body and collective identity]. Through this piece, the artist criticizes the Maoist period where the absence of the physical body shows the absence of the individual person. The submission that is suggested by the absent body can be seen as a type of “rape” of the individual by the corrupt and unjust CCP.



The different colors of each of the five Mao suits, contrast with the absence of individuality. The vibrant colors displayed by Jianguo’s Mao suits are a representation of modern contemporary consumerist China. The bright colors give each suit its own uniqueness and individuality. In the Maoist era, the Mao suit generally appeared in all neutral and bland colors, portraying each body as part of the larger collective in the eyes of socialist China. The neutral colors were a representation of collectivity and similarity in that no body had an individual identity. The body was supposed to appear genderless, shapeless, and sexless (masculinized). In the Chinese socialist era, fashion was a form of political oppression—and this was most notably observed through the Mao suit. Politically, the socialist government, through the Mao suit, promoted a specific social behavior that fused the symbolism of Maoist thought and utility.  move these comments to the paragraph on body The artist purposefully uses bright colors in order to emphasize the individuality of each of the Mao suits—juxtaposing the collectivity invoked by the absence of bodies. Jianguo uses these colors to represent individuality and prosperity that describes commercial China, or post-socialist China. address how the artist, in terms adding color or coloring the mao suite, rewrite social-political history as china undergoes transition from mao to post mao


The sculpture contrasts two seemingly opposing ideas–the absence of the body and the presence of the vibrant-colored suit—in order to highlight the great changes that have occurred since the transition from socialist China to post-socialist China. He characterizes socialist China as a time where there was no individual, no identity other than that of the collective. Now, however, in post-socialist China, citizens are starting to determine their own identities—and through this they are becoming separate identities (represented by each color being different). Jianguo suggests in this sculpture that although there is a movement to the future, the Chinese people who lived through the Maoist period will not forget what it was like. Although there is a vibrant individual culture growing in China, in a past not so long ago this was not possible for the Chinese people. Through this, the artist celebrates the transformation of China from socialism to post-socialism.

nice post