This is how Chairman Mao would have wanted it to be.
The Chinese Red Guards bask in a field under warm sun, after gathering a great harvest. Fields of abundant crops surround them, juxtaposed by an epic skyline in the background, gleaming with perfection and superiority. Everyone is waving the red People's Republic Flag in choreographed unison.
In the city, office workers dutifully perform their tasks, their comrades cleaning the cubicle aisles. At night they dance — the men wearing their military fatigues, the women not wearing anything that shows off too much skin. That wouldn't be modest.
Everyone is always happy in modern socialist China.
The only problem is ... modern China isn't socialist.
The Beautiful Future sees icons of Beijing's skyline reimagined by a team of propaganda painters in Pyongyang. Images show modern Chinese landmarks as if they were picked up and put down during Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward.
The art is a fascinating experiment, dreamed up by two Western expats in Beijing — Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours and Dominic Johnson-Hill of Plastered 8 — who asked North Korean propaganda artists in Pyongyang to help them create images of a socialist ideal of China. Bonner and Johnson-Hill had been living in China for 20 years, and wanted to show a glimpse of what Socialism with Chinese characteristics could have been. The artwork was recently shown at a Beijing art gallery.
It's a complete parallel universe.
Most interesting, this is how North Korean artists see the modern world. Colors are a weird, yet sexy mix of technicolor and drab greys, in the style of Mad Men. There are no computers. The people depicted are regimented and loyal. Even the names of the works ("CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest," "Glorious CCTV Tower") are total WTF. It could be one of the many thousands of propaganda posters issued by the Chinese Communist Party's Propaganda Department in the 1950s under Mao, comrades brimming with enthusiasm and hot energy in a nationalistic display of power.
Take a look, some of the works graciously provided to PolicyMic by Bonner and Johnson-Hill:
"Bird's Nest, Home of the People"
"CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest"
"Glorious CCTV Tower"
"Disco Night to Enhance the Day"
"KTV Gives Us a Voice"
"Office Culture for Prosperity"
"Water Cube for Clean Air and Healthy Life"