“Tursunay Ziawudun” by Mahn Kloix in Marseille, France – StreetArtNews
Street artist Mahn Kloix recently worked on his latest mural in Marseille, France. Located on the 200-meter square wall of telecom operator Orange and now dominating the stage is a portrait of Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uyghur who testified to her ordeal in the “camps” Chinese.
Suspended from his ropes, the artist put the finishing touches to his portrait on October 7, on the immense facade of this building, rue FÃ©lix-Pyat, in the heart of one of the poorest districts of France’s second city. . . And he signed his work on October 8 with a simple stencil, “Tursunay Ziawudun, by Mahn Kloix”.
No message beyond this name and face, which the artist painted from an image from a BBC documentary where the 43-year-old recounts the rapes she suffered in one of the “camps” set up by the Chinese regime in the western region of Xinjiang, first in 2017, then in 2018.
Several human rights organizations have accused Beijing of interning at least one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”, subjecting some to forced labor. Amnesty International denounced “crimes against humanity”.
Beijing denies this figure and talks about “Vocational training centers” to support employment and fight against Muslim extremism in this province which had been affected by attacks attributed to Uyghurs.
Under an almost transparent lace veil, the look is soft. Hand on cheek, Tursunay Ziawudun seems “Look to the future”: “One of my challenges”, Mahn Kloix explains to AFP, âIt’s talking about negative things without falling into the negative, always giving an image of hopeâ. This woman’s journey has been “violent”, explains the 40-year-old artist, who spent two years in Beijing, when he was still a graphic designer and above all a great traveler. It was through this BBC documentary that he discovered Tursunay Ziawudun’s ordeal. “It took me to the guts.”
“This is perhaps the hardest scar to forget”, explains this Uyghur survivor, in her testimony, reviewing her three gang rapes: “I don’t even want these words to come out of my mouth anymore, (…) in fact their goal is to destroy us all”, she says, of the Chinese regime’s policy towards the Muslim community in Xinjiang.
“My theme today is oppressed minorities”, he explains. On a wall in Marseille, he paints NÃ¼dem Durak, a Kurdish singer imprisoned in Turkey. On a garage door, still in Marseille, is Yulia Tsetkova, a Russian activist prosecuted for defending the rights of women and LGBT people. In Eauze (Gers), Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist. In Paris, on the WALL (Modular, Urban, Reactive) of Oberkampf, a scandalous kiss, that of Shaza and Jimena, two women who had to flee Dubai where homosexuality is punished by death.
With Tursunay Ziawudun, it is another resistance that he puts forward. “Paint this portrait on the walls of the historic telephone operator in France, the country of the motto Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the country which asserts itself as the guarantor of human rights but which continues to trade with China,” it makes perfect sense! “, he pleads with irony.
Mahn Kloix began painting in urban spaces in New York. Strongly influenced by the street art scene, Kloix’s fluid and free contemporary figuration is also expressed on canvas and paper. He pays tribute to the young demonstrators from Istanbul, Tunisia and Athens by conveying their similarities in his works. Their portraits are a leitmotif to highlight human and environmental struggles.
Take a look below for more pictures of “Tursunay Ziawudun”
Photo credits: Fabrice Calmettes