In 1966, China’s Communist leader Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution to reassert his authority over the Chinese government. Mao called on the nation’s youth to purge the ‘impure’ elements of traditional Buddhist and Daoist society to revive the revolutionary spirit.

Red Guards destroyed statues across the county, including this one in Harbin, while exiling, imprisoning and destroying the lives of millions of Chinese people declared “rightists” or “enemies of the people.” Intellectuals, artists, musicians, writers and cultural producers were especially targeted.

Sam Durant, Harbin, 1966, (2018) Graphite on paper, 138.4 x 210.8 cm. © Sam Durant, Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo. Photo: Makenzie Goodman