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    in which of the following twentieth-century historical contexts would artists have been most likely to display works that carry messages similar to that conveyed by wang guangyi’s painting?


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    Officializing the Unofficial: Presenting New Chinese Art to the World on JSTOR

    Meiqin Wang, Officializing the Unofficial: Presenting New Chinese Art to the World, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Vol. 21, No. 1 (SPRING, 2009), pp. 102-140

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    Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

    Vol. 21, No. 1 (SPRING, 2009), pp. 102-140 (39 pages)

    Published By: Foreign Language Publications


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    Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (ISSN # 1520-9857), formerly Modern Chinese Literature (1984-1998), is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal devoted to the culture of modern and contemporary China, with "China" understood not in the narrow, political sense. The journal publishes on literature of all genres, film and television, popular culture, performance and visual art, print and material culture, etc. MCLC is edited by Kirk A. Denton at the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University. MCLC is listed in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index. MCLC book reviews are published on the MCLC Resource Center, a website devoted to modern China cultural studies and affiliated with the journal. Information on book review submission can be found in the "Submission" page below. The MCLC Resource Center also has an online publication series that complements the publications in the print journal

    The Ohio State University's Foreign Language Publications (FLP) is a not-for-profit publisher, distributor and retailer of foreign language materials for students and instructors of foreign languages. An arm of the OSU Foreign Language Center, FLP offers textbooks, multimedia materials, and course packets in a variety of foreign languages--including less commonly taught languages--for both classroom-instruction and independent, self-instructional learning curriculums.

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    Source : www.jstor.org

    China on Display for European Audiences?

    “China” on Display for European Audiences? The Making of an Early Travelling Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Art–China Avantgarde (Berlin/1993)Franziska Koch, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität HeidelbergContemporary Chinese Art–Phenomenon and Discursive Category Mediated by Exhibitions

    Exhibitions have always been at the heart of the modern art world and its latest developments. They are contested sites where the joint forces of art objects, their social agents, and institutional spaces intersect temporarily and provide a visual arrangement for specific audiences, whose interpretations themselves feed back into the discourse on art. Viewed from this perspective, contemporary Chinese art–as a phenomenon and as a discursive category that refer to specific dimensions of artistic production in post-1979 China–was mediated through various exhibitions that took place in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter, People’s Republic). In 1989, art from the People’s Republic also began to appear in European and North American exhibitions significantly expanding Western knowledge of this artistic production. Since then, national and international exhibitions have multiplied, while simultaneously becoming increasingly entangled: the sheer number of artworks that circulate between Chinese urban art scenes and Western art metropolises has risen steeply, as have the often overlapping circles of contemporary artists, art critics, art historians, gallery owners, and collectors who successfully engage across both sides of the field. To a certain degree these agents govern exhibition-making and act as important mediators or “cultural brokers”[1] globalizing the discursive category of contemporary Chinese art: it is covered in worldwide news media, promoted by museums with an international outlook both inside and outside the People’s Republic, and established by agents whose actions are not confined to local or national settings. Significantly, these activities are no longer governed by Cold War ideologies, at least not in the same ways they were prior to China’s Reform and Opening Policy, initiated in the late 1970s, and the fall of the Iron Curtain in late-1980s Europe.

    These observations logically imply that the category of contemporary Chinese art is neither monolithic nor clear-cut but rather subject to continuous renegotiation, being reconfigured for and by each exhibition. However, my research on Western exhibitions of artwork produced in the People’s Republic after 1979, as well as the development of exhibition activities in China during the same period, shows that several factors account for the tendency of these exhibitions to claim and even brand the category as a stable canon of artworks, artists, art practices, and artistic concepts. This canon does not easily change or broaden over time, despite the fact that the number of people active in the art world has risen. Meanwhile, exhibition-making has become part of a prosperous transnational culture industry, exemplified by the worldwide proliferation of biennials, art fairs, and auctions.

    The numerous group exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art displayed to European and American audiences in the last twenty-five years bring forth two recurring observations: first, the claim that a show represents the best, most innovative, and representative of recent artistic production in the People’s Republic; second, that the exhibition provides an artistic window through which to understand “China” as such. No doubt such claims are hardly new and can be dismissed as the conventional marketing rhetoric of Western art exhibitions, which present non-Western artwork as an attraction based on assumptions of cultural difference. Yet if we consider exhibitions as platforms where processes of cultural symbolization take place, we can examine the conditions under which art produced in the People’s Republic becomes visible in the West and vice versa. However, it is important to remember that these processes are inherently pre-configured and produce notions of “the West” and “China” in relation to historically changing and permeable national, cultural, and economic boundaries, which themselves determine the degree to which mutual artistic exchange and the transfer of art objects and agents can occur.  Nonetheless, an examination of these processes enables us to question how such exhibitions negotiate notions of identity and difference, contributing to change(s) or stabilizations in these boundaries.

    Historical Background and Socio-Political Asymmetries Governing Exhibition Practices in China and the Western World during the 1980s

    This paper proposes to investigate the conditions that (in)formed the first large group exhibition of contemporary Chinese art from the People’s Republic presented in Europe after 1979: the travelling group show China Avantgarde, which opened in Berlin in early 1993.[2] Before analyzing the exhibitionin detail, it is important to recapitulate the historical conditions that had a decisive impact on its making. I will contextualize China Avantgarde in relation to two important forerunners that exemplify the differences between the Chinese and the European exhibition scenes in 1989: Zhongguo Xiandai Yishuzhan. China/Avant-Garde in Beijing and Magiciens de la terre in Paris. The exhibition in Berlin explicitly refers to these earlier events, their concepts, and agents, thus drawing on a small social network that already linked art and artists across European and Chinese borders.

    Source : heiup.uni-heidelberg.de



    David Spalding 2006

    The paintings of Wang Guangyi belong to the category of Chinese contemporary art termed Political Pop: work that appropriates the visual tropes of the propaganda of the Cultural Revolution, reworking them in the flat, colorful style of American Pop. To understand the works of artists engaged in this practice, it is important to recognize the significance and specificity of the images they are using to fashion their work. Without this knowledge, the work of artists like Wang Guangyi may be reduced to a mere aestheticization of the experiences of the Cultural Revolution, a view which threatens to limit the discussion of these works to their formal elements, foreclosing more important ideological and historical questions that must be raised. It is perhaps equally essential, particularly for Western audiences, to keep in mind the dominance that the Maoist regime held over visual culture and artistic production in China from 1949 to 1976, a control that reached a near totality between 1966 and 1972, during the Gang of Four’s reign[i]. Certainly, the vast legacy of propaganda that resulted from this period will continue to impact artists interested in critically examining China’s recent visual history. After all, these images were more than simply popular; for a time, they were the only ones allowed.

    During the mid-1990s, as China’s rapidly changing economic system transformed to accommodate the demands of the global marketplace, a rush of luxury goods became available to newly wealthy developers and entrepreneurs. In Wang Guangyi’s series(1998), the artist responds to the influx of a new visual regime: those advertising images promoting newly available, high-priced commodities. In the resulting oil paintings, Wang stages conflicts between classical figures of propaganda and the onslaught of luxury consumer goods entering

    China. In the first propaganda image below, three heroes of the revolution seem to be manning the front lines of ideology, as Chairman Mao floats above them like a benevolent and watchful god. From left to right the costumes of these three identify them as an industrial laborer, a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army, and a farmer—examples of “red” people, proletariat who would pave the way for the future. The caption below captures the ferocity of their revolutionary zeal: “People around the world, unite! Abolish American Imperialism! Abolish Soviet Reactionaries! Abolish Counter-revolutionaries throughout the country![ii]” The intense animosity of this trio is harnessed and redeployed by Wang Guangyi in [BMW] (1998), in which the same three figures look defiantly out toward the future of free enterprise and utter a resounding “No!” But what, exactly, is being refused? What is

    being criticized?

    Similarly, Wang Guangyi’s [Rolex] (1998) appropriates the image of a Chinese ballet dancer, a member of one of the revolutionary dance troops which used a Western dance form, imported from Russia, to communicate tales of revolution to the masses. These troops were very popular at a time when all forms of cultural expression—including Peking Opera and other theatre forms—were re-worked to express Maoist ideology. The text below the dancer reads: “Learn how to act by watching a hero. You must become as strong as that pine tree on top of Titian Mountain.” The female counterpart of this figure appears in Wang’s [Rolex] (1998), perhaps displaying her athletic strength and prowess to ward off the appeal of the watchmaker.

    It is important to note that there is not a consensus about the critical intent of Wang Guangyi’s work. In fact, some critics have been particularly strong in their rejection of his paintings, as well as those by other Political Pop artists, finding fault with the artists for tapping into the manipulative power of propaganda imagery without adequately subverting its meaning. In other words, Wang can be seen as extracting cultural capital from a history of suffering, providing easy answers without asking too many difficult questions. This suspicion is compounded by the fact that the artist’s works have become valuable commodities, having circulated perhaps too easily into the Western art market. Critics ask: Isn’t such commodification exactly what Wang Guangyi is supposed to be critiquing? Curator and art writer Gao Minglu has expressed these feelings quite strongly:

    They [Political Pop artists] have become a part of an upper-middle class in the changing Chinese economy. The artists no longer strive to produce a confrontation with authority and the public as their predecessors did; they have changed from elite/ amateur avant-gardists to professional, careerist artists…the nationalism and materialism of Political Pop, based on the transnational political and economic circumstances, share common roots with government policy, and the art is in a position of complicity.[iii]

    I respect the demand that a great deal of caution be exercised when tapping into the images of a fascist regime. Still, I can’t help but be reminded of the criticism of those Western artists in the 1970’s and 80’s who, while developing poignant strategies of appropriation and mimicry, were accused of self-exploitation and even pornography.

    Source : www.shanghartgallery.com

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