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Death of the Innocents

Death of the Innocents

As the human population reportedly reached 7 billion, I started to look at the possibilities and problems associated with this fact. Through this I began looking at population control, and more specifically the Chinese government’s ‘one child policy’ implemented in 1978. It is estimated that since then this policy has prevented up to 400 million births. However it is the often controversial manner in which the policy has been imposed; forced abortions and sterilization, female infanticide, and underreporting of female births which have provoked criticisms worldwide.

While the policy is still in place today, it has been relaxed to allow families who meet certain specifications to have multiple children, and there are various ways of working around the policy, and many do.

Due to the traditional preference for boys, however, and the commonly held belief that a son will be better at looking after the family, working, and will carry on the family name, there is now a major imbalance in the numbers of men and women in China, with female infants often being abandoned, orphaned or aborted.

With this papercut illustration I wanted to use the visual and symbolic language of Chinese traditional art and craft, to comment on and expose this fact. In Chinese symbolism the yin and yang represent balance and order, something which because of the policy, is no longer. The dragon ironically represents fertility, as well as the masculine, while the phoenix represents the feminine, which is why we see them emerging from their respective infants umbilical cords. The background employs Chinese decorative themes to disguise the cherubic girls falling through the sky, writhing in pain.

Detail, backlit