Wang Dan, a student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, auctioned off his poems and donated the proceeds to build the June Fourth Memorial Hall

Recently, Wang Dan, a student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, collaborated with Taiwanese musician Wu Baicang and Hong Kong artist Lin Zibang, who lives in Taiwan, to auction off the digitally processed poem “A Day Without Cigarettes” in Taiwan. Wang Dan told the station that all proceeds from the auction would be donated to Dialogue China, a private think tank, to support the project of setting up a June 4 memorial in New York.

In early June, in collaboration with Taiwan-based Hong Kong artist Lam Tze Pong and Taiwanese musician Wu Pak Cang, Wang Dan’s poem “A Day Without Cigarettes” was turned into a visual artwork through digital technology and auctioned off on OURSONG, Taiwan’s digital content collection platform.

In an interview with reporters on June 10, Wu Pak Cang said that the purpose of producing this digitized work was partly to make the younger generation remember and understand the history of June Fourth: “At that time, when we talked to Mr. Wang Dan about this, we had a rather honorable claim to take the song ‘Days Without Cigarettes’ and transform it into a form of new media art. On the one hand, we also hope to awaken people’s attention to this past history, especially the younger generation, many of whom may have little memory of this event.”

The Day Without Cigarettes is a poem by Wang Dan published in 1989. In 2002, in an article titled “My Story of Quitting Smoking” published in Taiwan’s Free Times, Wang Dan stated that he had not smoked during the 1989 student movement protests. He smoked three times during his exile and trial after the massacre unleashed by the Chinese Communist Party, and each time he smoked he was wanted, arrested and sentenced. Since then, he has stopped smoking.

I should say that it is a poem in itself, which was later adapted into a pop song, and it also represents Mr. Wang Dan’s own memories when he was young and during the time of the student movement, as well as the memories of several generations of young people in Taiwan,” said Wu Baicang. So, we then tried to use the words of this poem and visualize it with a new algorithmic art of acting.”

The planning for the digitization of “Days Without Cigarettes” began in May of this year. In the digitization process, Lin Zibang, who works and teaches related to digital art, wrote the related program.

Wu Pak Cang introduced, “This program can use the text that is input in to form a pattern, so it needs two things: what kind of text you want for input and what kind of pattern you want to form.” He added, “So we input the verse that Mr. Wang Dan did, and we want it to draw the picture on the cover of Mr. Wang Dan’s Facebook page, the one in Tiananmen Square.”

The photo Wu Bacang refers to is a black-and-white photo of Wang Dan standing high above Tiananmen Square with a megaphone facing the protesting crowds in 1989. After digitization, Wang Dan’s poem was transformed into a pattern similar to this photo. After the digitized work was completed, it was put up for auction on the OURSONG platform on June 3 and bought three days later by an unidentified person for $2,399.56.

Wang Dan said the auction proceeds will be donated to the Dialogue China think tank, which he heads, and will be used in the future to support the establishment of a June 4 memorial in New York. He said he felt the need to establish a June 4 memorial in the United States because of the reality of the closure of the June 4 memorial in Hong Kong.

He said, “This is an idea that I put forward only on June 4 this year, just a few days ago, and I am still seeking opinions from all sides. But the response I think is still very positive, and I am now actively organizing the preparatory committee for the memorial, but it is not something I can make alone anymore.”

Wang Dan also said that at present, including Wuer Kaixi, Wang Chaohua, Zhang Bogasa, Zhou Fenglock, Wang Juntao and other June 4 participants, have expressed their willingness to join the project. After the establishment of the preparatory committee, they will register as legal representatives and then obtain funds through crowdfunding to obtain the June Fourth Memorial Hall site.

He also revealed: “Whether we rent or buy, once we have a location, we will start to hire a special exhibition designer to set up the interior of the exhibition. We hope that no later than the 35th anniversary (of June 4), we will be able to complete the entire project officially, which is the current general plan.”

Attachment: Wang Dan’s “Days Without Cigarettes

Days Without Cigarettes
I was always away from you
But in my heart, I always take you as my only
The only hope

It’s dark and the road can’t continue until dawn
My thoughts are spread out one by one
In the streets of that grey town
You don’t seem to like the lack of blue doves flying

If you don’t have a cigarette in your hand, then strike a match
Smoke your hopelessness
To smoke the wisp of rain that can never come again

After you remember me
The days without cigarettes again