A universal feel-good motif which at first sight looks innocuous and cheerful: on Barbara Krobath’s tile pattern Drei Chinesen in der Qinghai-Tibet-Bahn (Three Chinese in the Qinghai-Tibet-Railway) three tourists are shown waving and photographing out of a train window. This is a special train: the Qinghai–Tibet railway is the highest railway line in the world (highest point: 5072 m). The prestige project by the Chinese government, which Mao Zedong already dreamed of, connects the province of Qinghai with Lhasa, the capital city of the Autonomous Region of Tibet. The line was opened on July 1, 2006.
How should Krobath’s 19-square-meter work of some 40,000 Bisazza-glass mosaic tiles, assembled by members of a course for the deaf at the equalizent training center, be seen now? Is the railway possibly a means in order to settle more and more Chinese on the roof of the world and further marginalize the Tibetans and their culture? Will it in the worst case quickly transport troops to Lhasa? Or should we read the image as a vision of the future, in which Chinese tourists come to a free Tibet and wave to a proud people?
entrance area of equalizent – Qualification Center for Deaf Persons, Sign Language and Diversity Management, Obere Augartenstrase 20, 1020 Vienna
*1959 in Carinthia (AT), lives and works in Vienna and Lower Austria (AT)