Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Chairman Obama


Barack Obama’s celebrity expanded into several new markets since his election. “ObaMao” or “Maobama” t-shirts hit stands in China last year, but disappeared prior to President Obama’s visit to Asia. With an interest in Chairman Mao combines and an appreciation for President Obama’s intentions, I felt compelled to buy one of these shirts. Initially, the designs seemed comical. They are satirical. Outside of national popularity, these two leaders share no similarities.

Perceptions of the “ObaMao” clothing line differ across countries. A variety of shirts (Shirt #1, Shirt #2, Shirt #3) are advertised on the Internet as “Buy Anti Obama Funny Obamao” shirts. In China, Chairman Mao survives as a positive icon. Comparing him with Obama thus appears complimentary.

The image to the right reads, “为人民服务,” meaning “Serving the people.” This famous Mao Zedong quote does not reference Communism, and actually aligns with the U.S. ideal of a President for the people.

Right before President Obama’s visit to China, Liu Mingjie, who designed and marketed these ObaMao images, was abruptly out of stock. Mr. Liu declined to comment. Nearby stores with president Obama action figures in a superman uniform continued business as usual.

Evaluations of Mao in the U.S. remain a bit more mixed. While President Obama visited China, these shirts were allegedly taken off the market only to not offend his administration. The U.S. market for this clothing is likely comprised of the uninformed population that likens President Obama’s initiatives to Communism. This association is not flattering. Unfortunately, to ensure that I do not appear supportive of this stance, my wish list for this holiday season will not include these shirts.


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Take a Closer Look


These pieces mimic traditional Chinese scrolls with a modern twist: every element of nature appears replaced by products of development. They were displayed on the Shanghai People’s Square metro station‘s advertisement screens, and were generated for the China Environmental Protection Foundation.

China Environmental Protection Foundation Website


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