Dr. Bai Qiuen, 2007
Ash on linen
286 × 360 cm
This work is an appropriation of a documentary photograph depicting Norman Bethune (Chinese name: Bai Qiu’en), a Canadian thoracic surgeon.
A convinced communist, Bethune arrived in China in early 1938, and proceeded to Yan’an, the revolutionary base area of the Communist Party where he was commissioned to organize a operating unit in the interior of North China.
There, Bethune spent the last two years of his life saving both wounded Communists and Japanese prisoners of war until he died from septicemia when cut himself while operating. Later, Mao Zedong published his famous text “In memory of Norman Bethune,” calling on the Chinese people to assimilate Bethune’s spirit: “utter devotion to others without any thought of self.”