Tao­pu, the New Chi­nese Art Fac­to­ry

Art Press - - CHINE -

Tao­pu, a for­mer in­dus­trial pro­per­ty on the outs­kirts of Shan­ghai, is home to an ar­tists’ co­lo­ny and the gi­gan­tic ShanghART Tao­pu com­plex, Chi­na’s first art gal­le­ry-wa­re­house. Buz­zing with crea­tive ex­changes and ideas since 2010, it is al­so a pro­duc­tion site, a ve­ri­table fac­to­ry for art­works. Its oc­cu­pants in­clude the Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny, whose me­thods are so­me­times down­right in­dus­trial.


Shi Qing, Yang Zhenz­hong, Zhang Ding, Yang Fu­dong and Xu Zhen come from dif­ferent ge­ne­ra­tions and prac­tices, but they are lin­ked by a com­mon in­ter­ro­ga­tion of the na­ture and role of art in a constant­ly evol­ving so­cie­ty. Ad­dres­sing ques­tions such as the new ma­te­ria­lism, the na­ture and forms of in­di­vi­dua­lism, Wes­tern neo­co­lo­nia­lism and the foun­da­tions of art cri­ti­cism, they aim to construct their own va­lues in an au­to­no­mous fa­shion while re­mai­ning on the po­li­ti­cal si­de­lines. Their work tends to­ward sha­red cha­rac­te­ris­tics, such as re­fu­sing to de­fine or pi­geon­hole Chi­nese contem­po­ra­ry art.


The idea of collectivity is ve­ry spe­ci­fic to Chi­na, where it re­tains much po­wer. The Cul­tu­ral Re­vo­lu­tion (1966-1976) left a du­rable mark on in­di­vi­dual iden­ti­ty and the re­la­tion­ships bet­ween fa­mi­ly and so­cie­ty, pu­blic and pri­vate, and in­di­vi­dua­lism and uni­for­mi­ty. Ar­tists are con­ti­nuing to ex­plore t hese concepts and t heir im­pli­ca­tions. Shi Qing’s ins­tal­la­tion Fac­to­ry (2009) is com­pri­sed of re­du­ced scale mo­dels of tra­di­tio­nal factories. Each mo­del contains fur­ni­ture da­ting back to the 1970s that once be­lon­ged to the artist’s fa­mi­ly. The iso­mor­phism bet­ween the work­places and the fa­mi­ly fur­ni­ture re­calls the strict sys­tem of col­lec­tive so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion and the era­di­ca­tion of per­so­nal space du­ring the com­mu­nist era. Vi­si­tors walk th­rough these shoe­boxes and sense the oppressive nar­row­ness. The piece in­ter­ro­gates the ideal re­la­tion­ship bet­ween pro­duc­tion space and pri­vate space, and modes of pro­duc­tion. Born in 1969 in Inner Mon­go­lia, Shi is self-taught. He has been ma­king ex­pe­ri­men­tal work since the end of the 1990s, crea­ting his own vo­ca­bu­la­ry with ve­ry simple ma­te­rials such as wood, li­ving plants and boxes meant to be as neu­tral as pos­sible.

In­di­vi­dual alie­na­tion from the col­lec­tive is al­so en­ac­ted in Yang Zhenz­hong’s vi­deo Spring Sto­ry (2003). Li­ke­wise born in 1969, he fil­med 1,500 wor­kers from a Shan­ghai fac­to­ry, as­king each of them to re­cite a word or phrase from a fa­mous 1992 speech by Deng Xiao­ping.(1) In the vi­deo no one un­ders­tands what’s hap­pe­ning, but when the words and phrases are put to­ge­ther they ac­quire mea­ning. Here the artist is ques­tio­ning the au­to­no­my of the in­di­vi­dual. These wor­kers’ dai­ly lives are fo­cu­sed on the re­pe­ti­tion of ti­ny, iso­la­ted tasks that don’t make sense ex­cept as part of a whole that goes way beyond them. The in­di­vi­duals are sim­ply cogs in a ma­chine, and yet, blind­ly, each makes their con­tri­bu­tion to the col- lec­tive product. The sub­text in­volves the va­lue of hu­man beings and an ap­peal for the au­to­no­my of the self. Like ma­ny ar­tists, Yang Zhenz­hong was trai­ned as a pain­ter and lear­ned vi­deo art on his own. His I Will Die (2000-8) shows people all over the world re­pea­ting this sen­tence in En­glish. They are all equal in the face of their com­mon fate, and yet each de­mons­trates their in­di­vi­dua­li­ty in their own way of saying these few simple words. Once again, this artist si­tuates the in­di­vi­dual and their mar­gin of free­dom wi­thin the uni­for­mi­ty of the group. In Let’s Puff (2002) a girl seen on a mo­ni­tor blows ve­ry hard in the di­rec­tion of ano­ther screen sho­wing the ci­ty of Shan­ghai. Eve­ry time she puffs, the ur­ban

land­scape changes, as if a single in­di­vi­dual could trans­form an en­tire ci­ty. Ni­cole Schoe­ni (2) uses the term “me ge­ne­ra­tion” to des­cribe ar­tists who are pro­ducts of the one-child po­li­cy and the ree­mer­gence of ca­pi­ta­lism. But at the same time, there are an in­crea­sing num­ber of ar­tists’ col­lec­tives. In Shan­ghai, for example, Bird Head was foun­ded in 2004 by the pho­to­gra­phers Ji Weiyu and Song Tao, and Ding Li and Jin Feng laun­ched the TOF group in 2011. The Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny, which oc­cu­pies a Tao­pu wa­re­house, is a case in point. Ar­tists contri­bute ano­ny­mous­ly to the pro­duc­tion of art­works as part of what its foun­der, Xu Zhen, de­fines as a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise. Yet not all its ar­tists are equal; Xu Zhen makes all de­ci­sions him­self. His in­ten­tion was to create a pa­ro­dy—a ca­pi­ta­list cor­po­ra­tion whose mis­sion is to pro­mote crea­ti­vi­ty. This was not the first col­lec­tive ex­pe­rience for this artist, born in 1977, who along with the Ita­lian Da­vide Qua­dri­lo foun­ded BizArt, Chi­na’s first pri­vate ex­hi­bi­tion space and ar­tists’ re­si­dences, ope­ned in 1998 in Shan­ghai’s M50 dis­trict. The Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny’s pre­mises are im­mense. They in­clude ar­tists’ li­ving quar­ters and work­shops where tex­tile wor­kers and crafts­men make mo­nu­men­tal pieces and sculp­tures. Of the more than twen­ty em­ployees, on­ly th­ree or four ar­tists sup­ply ideas; the rest are wor­ker bees. The pro­ducts may be unique pieces but they are in­dus­trial­ly pro­du­ced. This is an ori­gi­nal way to concep­tua­lize the place of the in­di­vi­dual/artist in so­cie­ty and the re­la­tion­ship bet­ween the par­ti­cu­lar and the ge­ne­ral. Fur­ther, the Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny’s whole pur­pose is to upend conven­tio­nal rea­dings. For ins­tance, these ar­tists made Ac­tion Conscious­ness (2011), a se­ries of pieces that can’t real­ly be seen be­cause they are in constant mo­tion. The sculp­tures ro­tate around a white cube in­ces­sant­ly, blo­cking a clear view. True Images (2010) is a suit of pho­tos of sculp­tures and ins­tal­la­tions the group made and then des­troyed. On­ly the pic­tures at­test to their erstw­hile exis­tence. This de­nun­cia­tion of the me­dia’s in­fluence on our way of thin­king fo­re­grounds the image as a new cog­ni­tive tool and in­ter­me­dia­ry fil­ter bet­ween the in­di­vi­dual and rea­li­ty. Ano­ther good example is the in­crease in on­line ac­qui­si­tions of art­works where the col­lec­tor, ins­tead of ha­ving any real contact with the piece, has no­thing to go on but the re­pro­duc­tion of its image.


Suc­cess and wealth have be­come so­cial­ly ac­cep­ted am­bi­tions in Chi­na, and up­ward mo­bi­li­ty is today’s cre­do. Thus the mar­ket eco­no­my is a pur­veyor of dreams and illu­sions for ma­ny Chi­nese—for ins­tance, the pro­ta­go­nist of Great Era (2007), the vi­deo that brought Zhang Ding to pro­mi­nence. When the cur­tains open, a man in a white suit finds, un­der a sheet, a bi­cycle with horse head moun­ted on the hand­le­bars. He thinks it’s a mo­tor­cycle and takes off for a spin around town, a place whose skys­cra­pers make it look like Shan­ghai. He dreams of be­co­ming a mo­dern man. As he goes along the si­tua­tion turns in­crea­sin­gly ri­di­cu­lous. The sound­track, a kind of fair­ground mu­sic, rein­forces the far­ci­cal di­men­sion. The man keeps pedd­ling his bike/mo­tor­cycle/horse but it doesn’t real­ly move. He isn’t going anyw­here. For Zhang Ding, these are the illu­sions of the ca­pi­ta­list mar­ket: bar­gain-ba­se­ment pret­tied-up junk. Com­part­ment (2011), for example, is a re­pro­duc­tion of a Louis XVI ca­bi­net done in the style of Chi­nese res­tau­rants an­xious to im­press their cus­to­mers. The title of the per­for­mance, Bud­dha Jumps Over the Wall (2012), is ta­ken from a high­ly es­tee­med Chi­nese gas­tro­no­mic dish made of a va­rie­ty of meat and fish, here re­pre­sen­ted life-size in plas­ter. He al­so de­si­gned a band­stand where mu­si­cians play waltzes. A few ex­pen­si­ve­ly dres­sed ex­tras dance while the co­oks pre­pare the dish. When they start to carve up the vic­tuals the scene ex­plodes— fi­re­works go off in the bel­lies of the li­ve­stock and fish, blo­wing them apart. Blood spurts out all over. At the end of the per­for­mance, all that’s left is a few shreds of plas­ter on the floor, a me­ta­phor for the slaugh­ter of ani­mals, the sa­cri­fice that makes gus­ta­to­ry de­light pos­sible. This sen­sa­tion of ove­ra­bun­dance, which, ac­cor­ding to the artist, de­fi­ni­te­ly dulls his un­ders­tan­ding, stands for the ex­cess of contem­po­ra­ry so­cie­ty. Zhang Ding, born in 1980, holds a di­plo­ma in pain­ting but qui­ck­ly took up the new me­dia ins­tead and in 2003 ac­qui­red an MFA from the pres­ti­gious Chi­na Aca-

de­my of Art in Hangz­hou. Along with vi­deos he al­so makes dra­ma­tic ins­tal­la­tions that vi­si­tors en­ter at their own risk. In the new so­cie­ty of the spec­tacle the pu­blic wants to par­ti­ci­pate in art­works and if pos­sible ac­tual­ly ex­pe­rience them. Thus, in Law (2009), they climb a lad­der and then walk across a wob­bly plank un­til they reach a kind of cra­ter strewn with lit lamps. Ba­lan­ced above this de­pres­sion is a bottle of wa­ter that seems rea­dy to tumble as vi­si­tors go by. On each side are other planks that do not ins­pire confi­dence, but vi­si­tors are free to walk on them no­ne­the­less. The light bulbs re­call the rows of lights along­side the va­ni­ty in ac­tors’ dres­sing rooms. Once again this piece is a mir­ror of the contem­po­ra­ry world’s grand per­for­mance.


For cen­tu­ries the artist was as­si­gned a ve­ry well de­fi­ned place in Chi­nese so­cie­ty. Seen as a “scho­lar,” his at­ti­tude was exem­pla­ry and his pain­ting sin­ce­re­ly conveyed an inner world ful­ly congruent with his mo­ral prin­ci­pals. Art had rules, ri­tuals and fol­lo­wed strict codes. Mao held that art should “please the eyes and ears of the people” and conform to so­cia­list rea­lism. At the same time the artist re­mai­ned just ano­ther ci­ti­zen, with a fixed sa­la­ry and as­si­gned lod­ging. At the end of the 1970s the fi­gure of the artist went out of fo­cus: or­di­na­ry ci­ti­zen, in­tel­lec­tual, ac­ti­vist? Ar­tists won more free­dom but lost their as­si­gned place, and while they have more or less re­co­ve­red their le­gi­ti­ma­cy since the turn of this cen­tu­ry their role re­mains to be de­fi­ned. For Shi Qing, art is above all a cri­ti­cal tool, not a po­li­ti­cal one. He be­lieves that Ai Wei­wei contri­butes to this confu­sion re­gar­ding the de­fi­ni­tion of the artist: he may res­pect and even ad­mire Ai as a ci­ti­zen but he does not consi­der this dis­si­dent an artist be­cause his work is ins­cri­bed in the sys­tem wi­thout rein­ven­ting it. In fact, get­ting out of the sys­tem is an ob­ses­sion for Shi, who has scou­red the works of Luc Bol­tans­ki and Jacques Ran­cière in his search for an al­ter­na­tive to clas­si­cal cri­ti­cism, ren­de­red in­ef­fec­tive by its so­cial co­op­ta­tion. Thus, in his view, ar­tists should be de­fi­ned as re­sis­tors in their ar­tis­tic pro­duc­tion as well as their at­ti­tude. They should hope to have an im­pact on so­cie­ty but re­main ra­ther pes­si­mis­tic be­cause their work seems so feeble in the face of the big ca­pi­ta­list ma­chine. The main thing is to keep aloof from the so­cie­ty of the spec­tacle, at the risk of art lo­sing its mea­ning en­ti­re­ly. All that is so­lid melts in­to air (2012) is an ins­tal­la­tion made of wood and li­ving plants, con­cei­ved as a re­fe­rence to Cons­truc­ti­vism and the Bau­haus. Planks, boxes and to­wers fill the room but have no spe­ci­fic form. The title is a ca­no­ni­cal ci­ta­tion from Marx and En­gels’s Com­mu­nist Ma­ni­fes­to. For Shi, chan­ging the world has be­come im­pos­sible be­cause there is no lon­ger so­me­thing so­lid to an­chor any­thing, even a cri­ti­cal pro­ject. He seeks a way out of the postMarxist lo­gic of a cri­tique that “sees eve­ry pro­test as a spec­tacle and eve­ry spec­tacle as a com­mo­di­ty.” Above all, he wants to res­tore cri­ti­cal thin­king’s po­wer, and for that the pu­blic must be eman­ci­pa­ted. In contrast to Ni­co­las Bour­riaud’s re­la­tio­nal aes­the­tics, Shi isn’t in­te­rest in ex­ten­ding the so­cial fa­bric or rea­ching out for context. All he wants is to­tal free­dom, for eve­ryone, and to make art where no one has their place and no rea­ding is more va­lid than any other, in a space that is al­ways new. What he of­fers is a vo­ca­bu­la­ry, some speech and words whose mea­ning it is up to the pu­blic to judge. Thus, in All that is so­lid melts in­to air, there is a box contai­ning words made up by mem­bers of a Cons­truc­ti­vist group cal­led Uto­pian. These are words that are not used, what he calls “dead words,” be­fore which all vie­wers are equal. This de­sire to make art a pre­cur­sor to a broa­der pro­cess of re­flec­tion and the res­to­ra­tion of judgment as a cri­ti­cal ac­ti­vi­ty is so­me­thing that Shi has in com­mon with the ar­tists of the Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny. These ar­tists all stu­dy philosophy with some re­gu­la­ri­ty. Eve­ry week a pro­fes­sor comes to Tao­pu to lec­ture about Bau­drillard, De­leuze, Žižek and Fou­cault. It’s stri­king to run in­to these philosophers again in Chi­na, where the new con­su­mer so­cie­ty and ca­pi­ta­list abuses have gi­ven them re­so­nance. These ar­tists draw on their thin­king for the tool­sets that al­low them to invent Chi­nese concepts that make it pos­sible to ob­serve and ana­lyze the way in which new norms are being construc­ted. This is so­mew­hat un­ders­tan­dable, gi­ven the cen­tra­li­ty of the no­tions of the in­di­vi­dual and sub­jec-

ti­vi­ty in the work of these thin­kers, but still, it’s quite an in­tel­lec­tual stretch to grasp the core is­sues in­vol­ved and trans­pose them in­to a Chi­nese context. This en­thu­siasm may have so­me­thing to do with the fact that the overw­hel­ming ma­jo­ri­ty of ac­tors in­fluen­cing the Chi­nese art mar­ket are Wes­ter­ners, who bring with them a whole co­hort of obli­ga­to­ry references, vir­tual­ly pass­words, whose ex­tra­or­di­na­ry po­wer ar­tists got long ago.


In short, by these lights, ar­tists must constant­ly chal­lenge ac­cep­ted ideas and so­cial pro­gress even while ta­king ad­van­tage of it: most of these ar­tists pro­fit from ri­sing mar­ket prices and are re­pre­sen­ted by ma­jor in­ter­na­tio­nal gal­le­ries. Yang Fu­dong, born in 1971, who consi­ders him­self an in­tel­lec­tual, perfectly en­cap­su­la­ted this contra­dic­tion in his portrait en­tit­led The First In­tel­lec­tual ( 2000): a di­so­rien­ted man, his face co­ve­red with blood, stands in the middle of a high­way, a brick in his hand. He­si­ta­ting, he doesn’t know who to throw it at, so­cie­ty or him­self? He wears a suit and tie and is ob­vious­ly a mem­ber of the new so­cie­ty, and even knows how to be­ne­fit from it, while al­so pre­sen­ting him­self as its vic­tim. That kind of am­bi­guous at­ti­tude is stron­gly cri­ti­ci­zed by some wri­ters, like the dis­si­dent Liu Xiao­bo who is ir­ri­ta­ted by the pru­dent com­pro­mises made by some in­tel­lec­tuals: “Al­most eve­ryone in Chi­na has the cou­rage to de­fy mo­ra­li­ty sha­me­less­ly. Ve­ry few have the mo­ral cou­rage to sha­me­less­ly de­fy rea­li­ty.”(3) Today, par­tial­ly as a re­sult of the Cul­tu­ral Re­vo­lu­tion, ar­tists and cri­tics tend to avoid po­li­ti­cal dis­course and contro­ver­sial po­li­ti­cal ques­tions. No one harks back to Lu Xun any­more.(4) If you like po­li­tics so much, they say, take it to the streets. Yang Zhenz­hong, for example, does not consi­der him­self an artist in the tra­di­tio­nal sense of the term, i.e. a re­pre­sen­ta­tive of va­lues and ethics that should be res­pec­ted. It’s too hard to main­tain that stance. He does not be­lieve that ar­tists have a so­cial role to play or even a res­pon­si­bi­li­ty. But his work can be read po­li­ti­cal­ly. The mas­sage chairs he hangs from the wall or lines up in rows seem more like tor­ture chairs than places to re­lax. Who would want to sit on these me­tal chairs, with their ex­po­sed mechanisms? The title Plea­sant Sen­sa­tion Pas­sing Th­rough Flesh ( 2012) gives you goose bumps as you ima­gine the flesh rip­ped apart by these na­ked cogs. In­evi­ta­bly, this piece brings to mind ca­pi­tal pu­nish­ment—Chi­na holds the world re­cord for exe­cu­tions. But the artist doesn’t men- tion that. His work, in fact, does not seek to be po­li­ti­cal, and he would ra­ther be gui­ded by in­tui­tion than rea­son. Can ar­tists be en­ga­ged des­pite their in­ten­tions? Zhang Ding, for his part, says he’s hap­py to just ob­serve the world around him. He wor­ked with the ar­tists Sun Xun and Tang Mao­hong to make gi­gan­tic Chi­nese cha­rac­ters mea­ning, “Are you rea­dy?” Du­ring the Cul­tu­ral Re­vo­lu­tion, that was the ques­tion put to young Red Guards who would re­spond yes wi­thout kno­wing what they were rea­dy for. In those days if you wan­ted to kill so­meone you didn’t have to shoot them. It was enough to write their name on a big cha­rac­ter pos­ter meant to de­nounce righ­tists. What makes these cha­rac­ters so stri­king is not on­ly their size but their am­bi­gui­ty. Today the slo­gan could be un­ders­tood as ad­ver­ti­sing co­py. This simple ques­tion makes us think about per­so­nal and col­lec­tive mo­ti­va­tions. It could be ad­dres­sed to Chi­na as a whole: Are you rea­dy for change? But it could al­so serve to awa­ken people by chal­len­ging them di­rect­ly. This artist be­lieves that there are two kinds of people who need wa­king up, those who are slee­ping com­for­ta­bly and those who ha­ven’t had time to think yet be­cause they’ve been bu­sy trying to make ends meet. They work to make some mo­ney and blow it as soon as they get it. This is a vi­cious circle that makes it im­pos­sible to see things in pers­pec­tive or even to re­flect. Once again, how should we un­ders­tand this artist’s pro­tes­ta­tions that he is apo­li­ti­cal?


Can we real­ly speak about Chi­nese contem­po­ra­ry art wi­thout tal­king about po­li­tics? Our Wes­tern gaze tends to see things from that point of view, and ma­ny Chi­nese art­works have been clas­si­fied as “po­li­ti­cal” that are no­thing of the kind.(5) Yet po­li­tics is at the heart of Chi­nese culture and al­ways has been. Can the dis­pa­ri­ty bet­ween these ar­tists’ dis­course and their work be ex­plai­ned by a fear of the om­ni­present cen­sor­ship? Most ar­tists don’t seem to wor­ry about it too much. It’s just part of the lay of the land, and they seem to have lear­ned to live with it, in­ter­na­lize it or even play with it. Is cen­sor­ship just a Wes­tern ob­ses­sion? Ac­cor­ding to Pi Li, in the 1990s “some pro­tests were held pu­re­ly for the be­ne­fit of fo­rei­gn jour­na­lists, and to this end de­li­be­ra­te­ly pro­vo­ked cen­sor­ship.”(6) This com­mer­cial avant-garde pe­te­red out at the turn of the cen­tu­ry with the ope­ning of gal­le­ries and art spaces where ar­tists could show their work to fo­rei­gn buyers with in­crea­sin­gly lit­tle in­ter­fe­rence. To this day the art scene is pri­ma­ri­ly do­mi­na­ted by the West, which im­poses its theo­ries, ana­ly­ti­cal tools and rules of the game. Cul­tu­ral ex­change and na­tio­nal iden­ti­ty are still re­cur­ring themes, but with glo­ba­li­za­tion the Ma­deIn Com­pa­ny ar­tists have no­ted the per­sis­tence of a de­mand for exo­ti­cism and pre­con­cei­ved ideas. For their bon­dage se­ries, re­fe­ren­cing Ara­ki, a Black mo­del, sym­bo­li­zing exo­ti­cism, rides as­tride ano­ther per­son whose head is wrap­ped up in a plas­tic bag. The se­ries is cal­led Play. The idea is to show a game and not a tor­ture ses­sion. But with our sup­po­si­tions, we im­me­dia­te­ly read this piece in a po­li­ti­cal fa­shion, even though that is not how it should be seen. For them, as for ma­ny ar­tists, contem­po­ra­ry Chi­nese art has not yet been un­ders­tood by Oc­ci­den­tals who pro­ject their own ste­reo­types on­to it and ins­tru­men­ta­lize it to rein­force their own vi­sion. This starts with the idea of “Chi­nese” art it­self. Just as there is no “Chi­nese” way of thin­king, so the com­plex rea­li­ty of ar­tis­tic prac­tices in today’s Chi­na can’t be re­du­ced to a set of na­tio­nal cha­rac­te­ris­tics. Today’s ar­tists in­crea­sin­gly tend to be more uni­ver­sal than Chi­nese-spe­ci­fic. They are a he­te­ro­ge­neous bunch, just as you would ex­pect from a coun­try as big as a conti­nent. Un­ders­tan­ding mu­tual ex­pec­ta­tions and in­ter­ac­tions in the face of gal­lo­ping Wes­ter­ni­za­tion is still a big is­sue for these ar­tists who want to both take their place on the in­ter­na­tio­nal stage and af­firm their au­to­no­my.

Trans­la­tion, L-S Tor­goff

(1) This was the speech in which Deng Xiao­ping de­cla­red his in­ten­tion to open Chi­na to the West and laun­ched the no­to­rious slo­gan “To get rich is glo­rious!” he­ral­ding the great eco­no­mic re­forms. (2) Ni­cole Schoe­ni is the di­rec­tor of the Schoe­ni gal­le­ry in Hong Kong. Foun­ded in 1992, it pio­nee­red in the break­through of contem­po­ra­ry Chi­nese art. (3) Liu Xiao­bo, La Phi­lo­so­phie du porc, Gal­li­mard 2011. (4) Lu Xun (1881-1936) was a Chi­nese po­li­ti­cal­ly en­ga­ged wri­ter who de­fen­ded the idea of Wes­tern de­mo­cra­cy du­ring the 1911 Re­vo­lu­tion. He cal­led for rea­lism in the arts in op­po­si­tion to tra­di­tio­nal pain­ting, which he consi­de­red in­ca­pable of re­flec­ting rea­li­ty. (5) Du­ring the 1990s, a neo-co­lo­nia­list ten­den­cy (high­ly cri­ti­ci­zed today) sei­zed on cer­tain Chi­nese art­works and tur­ned them in­to po­li­ti­cal sym­bols. The ex­hi­bi­tion cu­ra­tor Gao Min­glu ex­plai­ned, “The mar­ket is in­ter­es­ted in mar­quee names and a cy­ni­cal genre that’s ea­sy to re­co­gnize. When the in­ter­ests and lives of these ar­tists are clo­se­ly exa­mi­ned, it turns out that their work has no­thing to do with po­li­tics. It’s pu­re­ly com­mer­cial.” (Jing­dai­ly, 2011)

Caroline Ha Thuc is a wri­ter. She is the au­thor of Nouvel art contem­po­rain ja­po­nais in col­la­bo­ra­tion with Mo­mo Mat­su­za­ki (Nou­velles Édi­tions Sca­la).

Ci-des­sus / above: Yang Zhenz­hong. « Spring Sto­ry ». Vi­déo mo­no ca­nal. (Court. de l’ar­tiste et ShanghART Gal­le­ry). Single-chan­nel vi­deo Page de droite/ page right: Zhang Ding (avec Sun Xun et Tang Mao­hong). « Are you Rea­dy? ». (Court. ShanghART, Pé­kin)

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