Tian’anen and the Forbidden City
The civic space of Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City is one of those places that is probably more impressive in presence than in any well crafted photograph. There is something about that iconic portrait of Mao over Tian’anmen gate looking out over the vast square with the Hall of the People to his right and the architecturally symmetrical and attractive National Museum of China on his left. He would probably be appalled by the pair of enormous outdoor elongated video screens displaying uplifting messages and images of china in front of him but probably not by the 4 police video survellience vans each side of them.
Of all those well known images of Lenin Che and Mao I have always felt some affinity with Mao perhaps because China was so different and exotic but also as I wrote to the Chinese embassy in 1967 and received my copy of the thoughts of
Chairman Mao. I wonder what he would have to say about China’s extraordinary let-rip capitalism of today where the divide between rich and poor appears larger than anywhere.
Bertlucci’s film the Last Emporer and Bresson’s photographs while accompanying Sarte in 1949 are ones images of the Forbidden City and today as China’s most visited site for Chinese people it is impressive not only for the scale of the site and the beauty of the buildings but for the number and gaiety of Chinese tourists.
We visited on a Sunday during the holiday period and from the faces and dress one could see the whole of China. All dressed up for the occasion, family groups and lovers.
The Forbidden City is frankly stunning.
Then off to Ghost Street for Peking Duck in a beautiful courtyard restaurant!