Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist


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Mao’s Office Window

Sneak peek at a series in progress.

Windows are barriers, lattices, screens. They keep out enemies, the hot and cold, and they shut us in.

These Cyanotype murals are views of rooms in China where pivotal people stayed, slept, and worked to change the country's future. The window paintings are all diptychs: they portray the perspectives of those inside them, and those of us peering in from outside.

In Mandarin, the polite way to say '[western] foreigner' is "outside country person", which hints at the historic insulation of the country. Foreign perspectives of China – those from outside - are inherently incomplete. These dual views of the same window show how different the opposing sides appear of what is inherently the same structure.

Cyanotype Painting in Progress

Painting in progress: Office Window of the Great Dictator, from the Outside

Cyanotype chemicals are pale green when first painted, then darken as they dry, and turn blue in the sunlight.

maos office windows

Finished prints, Office Window of the Great Dictator

Visible are silhouettes of his calligraphy, which was surprisingly refined.

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