Thursday, March 05, 2009

366. New China and Old Nostalgia

There were several pieces from the exhibition, Interlude: Art and Life 366 at the Zendai MoMA that I found to be interesting. A common theme that i found interesting in many of the works is the changing nature of life in Shanghai, and China as a whole. The work "Line of Sight,' by artist Maldev Lopez took the approach of examining the increase of advertisements upon the city's visage. In the work, Lopez set up a several large orange panels that, when observed at a certain angle, blocked out all of the surrounding logos and advertisement. What i found fascinating about this piece is seeing a side of China that is not wholly comfortable with the sudden onslaught of capitalism that has taken hold of China, especially Shanghai. There is a whole population that has come, and is coming of age in a China so radically different from that of their parents. This generation has no connection to the communism of the past except for a vague and often mythicized history that frames the past in a reverent tone that is often off limits for discussion. A sense of nostalgia for a past many never lived seems sprout up every now in then when listening to he younger generation that is mistrustful of free-market, anything goes capitalism, which they often see as cold and uncaring
The piece "Echo," by artist Huang Dehua provides an interesting viewpoint to this. The work is an artistic recreation of old cheap floor tiles from the '70's and '80's that have entered the collective memory of an entire people. This memory, and this nostalgia, remains as a constant in so many as the world around them is razed block at a time as new rows of high-rises spring up at a dizzying rate. There is a comfort in those old floor tiles and a pleasant notion that one didn't have to worry as much about their place in the world, about being left behind - there is a comfort in living in the past, a past removed from reality and hardship, and idealized into a dream.

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