Art’s Precarious Independence in the post-Deng PRC

Only high profile impresarios (Zhang Yimou the top dog, and much resented by the Old Guard for that reason) or those supported by them (Cai Guoqiang, Yang Liping, Dadawa [= Zhu Zheqin + He Xuntian], etc.) or self-recostumed virtuosi (Lang Lang) have gone on to reach Big Publics extending (and crosslinking) “China” to or into the “Old” and “new” democracies of the arts. The State cannot play in this game, nor can the armies of dance or musical performers still on the government and army payroll. The lavish spending on Expo 2010 earned little praise: who knows the name(s) of those who designed and built it? (not Ai Weiwei though he continues to claim one or another role).

There has been some success in film, but only so where joint venture investment has taken root, leading to a string of juried awards. The rebasing (post-politicizing) of narrative film has done best of course where consciously delivered as story book history, but much less so (in box office at least) when attempting comment on the contemporary visible or directly remembered. As of course Modern now means. Among joint venture films nouveau of a non-storied sort, the top runner prize-winner, Jia Zhangke’s Shijie (2001), though very well received as art cinema, and available in full with English titles online since autumn 2009 (3 full years), has “grossed” a mere 20,000 online (Youtube) views. Vs 120,000 for the trailer and 1.5 million for the gongfu fight scene in Crouching Tiger , a Hong Kong production if there ever was one. Perhaps the return of that colony to the motherland has replanted or supplanted a “native” cinema, such as had taken root in the 5th Generation decades.

But there has also been extreme non-success in weaving a new generation of “pop” song into the world fabric. There is not and will not be a Chinese Bjork. (Though there are aspirants galore: Ayadou, Sa Dingding, and Dadawa). “Rock” vs “ethnic” vs. “Rap/Hip-hop” vs. “nightclub croon” in tandem?…. Perhaps because too easily (facilely) fused under the pounding of disco pulsing (see Wang Feifei’s “飞音乐”(Chinese Trip-hop) – more subtle cross-readings are few and little known “abroad”. Which helps explain, as we shall see, why frontline fusions (crossovers) have largely retreated into the inspection, even stealing, of elements of borderland sound, most prominently of Tibetan folk, but also Mongolian and Uighur.

9 thoughts on “Art’s Precarious Independence in the post-Deng PRC

  1. Throughout this great pattern of things you actually get an A+ with regard to hard work. Exactly where you lost me personally ended up being in your specifics. You know, as the maxim goes, details make or break the argument.. And it couldn’t be much more accurate right here. Having said that, permit me reveal to you what did do the job. The writing is certainly highly powerful and this is probably the reason why I am making an effort in order to comment. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, whilst I can easily see the leaps in reasoning you come up with, I am not really sure of just how you seem to connect the details that help to make the final result. For the moment I will, no doubt subscribe to your position however wish in the future you link the facts much better. Więcej

    • Dear Więcej =
      centrumeuropy.org

      I can understand your frustration with an undersupply of pertinent facts. In your environment (what IS centrumeuropy? i’m going to check but don’t read Polish very well…).

      But please understand: I am writing as an independent self-financed (low-or 0$ budget) reporter on fairly difficult cultural subjects, while also trying to make my presentations simple enough for beginners or info-byte collectors. As well, I am a believer in intuition.

      If you want to see my more “hard-core” scholarship, see https://asianimperialisms.com/2013/05/24/enter-the-bandits-of-the-hills-mao-in-jiangxi-1927-34/3/, which I wrote when still a salaried scholar at Princeton.

      If there is a leaped-over-facts that really confuse, by all means send a comment on the specifics.

      And thanks for your loyalty.

      May I express gratitude too for so many Warsaw readers…. is there a seminar or project behind this?

      Sincerely

      JP.

    • I just discovered your request today, a mere half-year after you sent it – sorry, I’m still learning to navigate in the WordPress system.

      The way to do this is to go to RSS Feed on the home page, that’s exactly what it’s for – auto-updating. I also hear that “Google Plus” does this for you as well, but haven’t trued it. The third possibility is Twitter, join and then add me under “follow” and you will get the updated posts as soon as they are “published”. But I should warn you I have a bad habit of “publishing” way before I have a full essay, and often leave the posts unfinished for months…

      Thanks for your attention.

    • Good to have your feedback.

      Most readers seem to find my posts too long and don’t finish, but I’ll keep you in mind.

      PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO ASK if there is something you’d like to know more about –

      Jim Polachek, USA

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    • Dear Warsaw Psychotechnika

      Thanks for your honesty as well as praise. Sometimes negative feedback helps more than positive. You are totally right about “kinda boring”: there have been personal problems that have made it hard to concentrate. Plus, I got stuck with Mo Yan because of his Nobel Prize. I’m not a comp lit person, but a visual one, so it’s been hard and probably a waste of time to pursue his writings other than Red Sorghum.

      My new project is the film Great Road (1934) , which has me much more engaged

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