Response to Lynn Pan's "HaiPai Culture" talk and the Arthub Symposium
Lynn Pan discussed how Shanghai's visual culture was formed from a
hodgepodge of global influences. These influences came through
different, and often amazing, channels. For example, the work of
Shanghainese graphic designers during the 1920-30s were inspired by
the Berlin Dada movement and George Grosz. Magazines like Vanity Fair
and Vogue, which were published in New York, were one such influential
channels of information in Shanghai.
This idea that "Shanghai visual style" was formed via
interweaving strands of influences that trace into the depths of
history and across geography, is important. The Arthub Symposium also
echoed the idea that there is an "exchange" involved in the formation
of a local art culture --- that art does not suddenly spring out from
an isolated, confined venue, and that it can be seen in a global
context. A major discussion in the symposium was how to define and
view "Contemporary Chinese art." Several speakers stated that we
should remove ourselves from the dogma of the "West influencing
Chinese art" or of the dogma separating Chinese Contemporary art from
the rest of the world. Defne, for example, discussed parallel
histories and occurrences that affected China and Turkish art.
My response to this question of "how to view Chinese Contemporary
art" is similar in that we should take a more global/open approach. I
think exploring the various historical "channels of information" into
China (like the Vanity Fair Magazines that Lynn Pan mentioned) is
worthwhile. It would shed interesting light on the socio-political
situation of China in relation to other countries, and on the identity
of "elite" information seekers and information-proliferators in China
that contributed to the art scene. I also think that we should explore
how Chinese art developed in reaction to similar historical trends in
other countries (like communism, globalization, industrialization).
This would allow us to better contextualize, and ultimately better
understand, Contemporary Chinese art history.