Art’s Precarious Independence in the post-Deng PRC

Ironically, then, the “World” has not been much taken with Chinese postmodernism of any sort save perhaps in evanescent museum (installation) exhibition (Xu Bing of course, but also du temps en temps Mr. Ai in plagiarized mode, as in whose Cube Light (2008) – from Japan/Seville). I doubt that anyone would even bother to photograph the 2011 Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads adjacent the Plaza hotel, were it not for its “location/location”: it seems much like a recap of Andy Warhol’s matrices of repeated cultural objects (Ditto so many others.. )

The fragmented aesthetics of new city core buildings (shopping malls, rail station, concert halls etc.) and the slap-up, non-contexted nature of mass housing do not bode well either. A much publicized try at nationally (culturally) coded, high-silhouette architectural abstraction – the China Pavilion at Expo 2010 – seemed a first step toward an “us” version of postmodern (a second take on the dougong frame of the old city was clearly intended), but (as an installation) could not become a landmark , and remains hors champ, overshadowed by glory-seeking high-profile FOREIGN designed megaliths: the Cube, Andrieu’s Egg V2 (Beijing), and the replication thereof in Shanghai (Andrieu1, 2004), The CCTV Towers, and of course the Birdsnest. The 2012 (Western) N.Y. ball-dropping, Shanghai version, had, of course, to trundle at least the profile of the Pavilion onto the stage, but it seemed to sneak in then quickly out of klieg lights’ halo: the Rococo/neo-Venetian mid-rise antiques of the Treaty System, stole the show.

About the only “us”-conceived project to have cracked the fusion barrier – the it is a very remarkable “only” – is I.M Pei’s Suzhou (Municipal”) Art Museum 2010, itself a work of art, and laid out with a high degree of contextuality (they call it fengshui). For which reason it had to be created well out of eyeshot from the capital. If there is an “us” aspect to the after-2010 renormalizing, it is still modest, as in the Parisian inspired art deco mosaics recently muralized in station accesses for the Beijing and Shanghai Metros, downscaled (thus more durable) spin-offs of the lobby/atrium of the China Pavilion at the 2010 Expo.

But none of this offers a vision of post-modern or even neo-traditional that might revive global interest. Urban Chinese will become more and glued to TV and computer games (Avatar!!), the world will not participate, and not just because of language.

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 =

      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, 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?



    • 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

  2. I am only commenting to make you understand of the really good discovery my cousin’s girl developed studying your blog. She came to find plenty of issues, including how it is like to possess an excellent coaching nature to have the others with ease know just exactly various extremely tough issues. You really surpassed our expectations. Thanks for churning out the important, trustworthy, explanatory and in addition unique tips on this topic to Ethel. WWW

    • 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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