The Quite Evanescence

Thursday, December 8 2022- Monday, February 26, 2024

Elliott School of International Affairs

George Washington University

Washington, D.C

The seed of this exhibition was planted in Lawrence, Kanas in 2016 when Syahidah met
a Uyghur photographer, Albikem through Gulnar Eziz, a Uyghur linguist professor now teaching
at Harvard. Seeing the beauty of East Turkestan and hearing the fear they have for their
families back in their homeland was disconcerting. This fear has continued through the many
Uyghurs were forced to flee their country and reports confirming the atrocities. However, there is also backlash of denials and lies from the Chinese Communist Party’s officials and the media.

In this art project named The Quiet Evanescence, Syahidah showcases the missing
persons of East Turkestan transposed in detention facilities. The photographs are maps of
mass internment camps compiled by The Xinjiang Data Project from the Australian Strategic
Policy Institute. Photographs and information on the missing Uyghur people are from the
Xinjiang Victim Database. Millions are being locked up in camps, given severe prison terms, or
kept in notoriously inhumane police custody in the name of reeducation and harmony. Many
have had their passports confiscated and considerable numbers assigned to forced labor. Even
more have simply disappeared. Children with detained parents have also been placed in difficult
circumstances, with some taken away to boarding schools or orphanages.

Based on the U.N 2020 tribunal, the State Violence Against the Uyghurs from 2017 to the
present time included: 1. Mass Surveillance, 2. Prohibitions on Uyghur religious and cultural
expression, 3. Destruction of Uyghur religious and cultural property, 4. Mass incarceration, 5.
Torture and ill-treatment, 6. Sexual violence 7. Forced labor 8. Transfer of Uyghur children, 9.
Forced Sterilization, and 10, Mass Incarceration.

How can we make a difference?

The action takes many forms. We are all consumers. Find out if the goods you bought are
created by forced labor. If the companies are involved. Stop buying from them. Although not
calling for a boycott of China overall, multiple organizations are calling instead on companies to
exit the Uyghur Region. We need to educate ourselves on the widespread use of forced labor in
global supply chains. Sign petitions and actions online, which can be found through the End
Uyghur Forced Labour.

“I am using my artwork as a catalyst for change. Art is unique in its capacity to enable
visionary thinking and to bring communities and policymakers together to engage in challenging
conversations. The Uyghur people face an active genocide; we must work together to end it. If
freedom matters so much to us, should it not matter to them?” - Syahidah Osman