Friday, May 8, 2009

Political Figures

I've been noticing lately how...popular? Chinese propaganda memorabilia seems to be, but I was still surprised to see actual propaganda figurines for sale at a local store the other day. And super expensive, too. These were priced in the 200$-range.

The way that shops choose to display merchandise always interests me, because it's like the items are arranged to form new ideas and make up new visual sentences that they were not originally intended for. It often feels like the people who design display windows are trying to communicate with shoppers, using pre-made objects as their language. 

Here, I really enjoyed the placement of Mao and pals in front of a giant Chinese checker board that dwarfs the entire company. I wonder what the message behind this arrangement is. Perhaps that Chinese Checkers is a hell of a game.

This one is probably my favorite -- it is apparently called "Exceed United States and United Kingdom" and the characters on the rocket say "Chinese Rocket."(Info from here). I love the idea of a man and woman building a rocket and riding it the hell out of here and up into outer space. See ya, suckers! they'd shout down to the clamoring throng. In this particular arrangement, I like how there's part of another figure on the right who looks like he's scalping tickets to the event.

This figure shows the humiliation and punishment of a counter-revolutionary. The cap says "stinky 9th class (citizen)" on it (please go here for a great analysis of this figure), and from my extremely limited familiarity with the Cultural Revolution in China, I suppose his glasses are a way to denote that he's meant to be a scholar, a much-maligned group during the time. For another example of scholar-punishment figurines, go here.

The thing I really love about the placement within the store, though, is that the missile from the previous figurine is pointed right at that dude on the right's head.

I haven't been able to find any information on this figurine, but I like the way her gun sort of blends into the rocket behind her and through that guy's crotch. That's a hell of a situation to find yourself in.

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