Tearing away the Clutter: Demolishing the “China Museum”

Manifesto of Constructive Nihilism/Anarchy

“When I was studying/working abroad, I went out of my way to avoid getting involved in exhibits planned by “China savants” – in general they had no more to offer than their ability to use “China” as a crutch. When they had spent their time learning Chinese they used up at least half of their lifetime quota of patience/endurance; the remainder got used up when they (had) worked at the history of China’s (visual) arts. The result: they hadn’t a clue about contemporary “Western” aesthetics or culture in general. Whenever it falls to them to introduce (“merchandise”) Chinese cultural (artifacts) to Western (audiences), they compress us into a one-dimensionality: they seem to want to peddle (us) Chinese as objects exotiques; so with the passage of time, since quite a while ago, (we) Chinese have become a tribe symbolizing Asian étrangerie”.

—- Cai Guoqiang, July, 2008*

Here is a well-known video-essay (1998) showing his solution to Chinoisirizing: the symbolic reduction by flame of the enclosures of museums devoted to amassing randomly selected bits and pieces from “the past”.


source: July 30 2008, 中国新闻周刊 interview, http://news.artxun.com/xifangxiandaiyishu-1432-7157307.shtml
Reflections on “Western” opaqueness regarding China’s (cultural) history. 蔡国强 Cai Guoqiang, b. 1957, was a Member of 6-man Core Design Team for 2008 Beijing OOC: his better known contribution to that event was the now infamous “29 giant steps”, a kind of son-et-lumiere show meant to illuminate the geomantic center of late-dynastic Beijing from the sky, then to anti-kowtow to the Imperial era cliche having the Ruler face South as a metaphor of authority properly exercised)


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