Saturday, April 04, 2009

[Arts] Made In China

There was an interesting article in the New Criterion a few months back that's been lingering with me, James Panero's Made In China.

Panero examines the success of multimillionaire artist Zhang Huan and the current trends within the Chinese art scene that has become notorious for creating art predominantly for export to the West.

Panero writes: "Zhang has struck it rich through cunning and compromise and contamination. He embodies all that it means to be a contemporary artist “made in China.”

And I would argue it's a fair assessment.

Panero's article is heavily informed by Richard Vine's book New China New Art, and provides an interesting conclusion:
Instead of the production, it is the Western consumption of Chinese art that deserves our scrutiny. By turning Chinese art into the latest trend, we have extended the global transformation of serious art into a speculative commodity, supported the soft power strategy of an oppressive state, and reveled in the negative force of an avant-garde linked to an authoritarian regime not seen since the Futurism of Fascist Italy. We have shipped our vanguard dreams abroad, and we have brought back home an imitation art, cheaper, more compelling than the real thing, but containing the fatal taint of melamine.

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