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Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 (review)

Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 (review) Reviews 251 melodies,suchasnonrepetitivenessofthemainmelody,dovetailingphrases, heterophony,polyrhythmsandsoforth.Healsomakesreferencetopieceswiththe samename/labelinothergeographicallocationsandgenres.However,inthis reviewer'sexperience,samenamesdonotmeanthattheynecessarilybearany resemblancetoeachother.Thenthereisthemysterioussentence:"Thegongche versionsmayalsosuggeststylisticsimilaritieswithsheng-guanmusicwhichare otherwiseinaudible"(p.109). Inconclusion,Ifindthisbookextremelyinterestingandusefultocultural anthropologistsandethnomusicologists.Exceptforthefewshortcomingsenumeratedinthepreviousparagraphs,itiswellwrittenandmakeslivelyreading.The accompanyingDVDisinvaluableforconveyingthefeelingofthecountryside,the people,theirlives,andtheambienceoftheritualsandmusic.Ilookforwardto the author'sforthcomingbookontheanalysisofshawmbandandritualmusic,a dauntingtask,asanyonewhohashadtotranscribefromfieldrecordingsknows. LindyLiMark Lindy Li Mark is a professor emerita of anthropology and ethnomusicology at California State University East Bay, at Hayward. She was also a visiting professor at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and at the University of California, Berkeley. RichardKing,editor,withRalphCroizier,ShentianZheng,andScott Watson.Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966­76. ContemporaryChineseStudies.Vancouver:UniversityofBritishColumbia Press,2010.318pp.Hardcover$94.00,isbn978-0-774-81542-0.Paperback $35.95,isbn978-0-774-81543-7. Artandpowerareinextricablylinked.Anoddcouple,theycomplementandfight eachother,defyingsocialtransformationandpoliticalchangethroughouttime andspace.Whilepowerissubordinatedtothetightreinoftransience,art,oncein awhile,canescapeimpermanencetostriveforeternity.Thisseemstobepartof thereasonwhypowerintuitivelyseeksthevicinityofart. InthePeople'sRepublicofChina(PRC),thisrelationshiplongsincebecame institutionalized--arthasnotjustbeensomesortofpreservativeforpowerbut bluntlyputintoitsservice.Ingeneral,mostsocialistcountriesnevermadea secret ofclearlylimitingarttoaservant'sroleandLenin'smemorablemetaphorof © 2011 by University of Hawai`i Press 252 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.2,2010 "cogsandscrews"intherevolutionarymachinemadethispointunequivocal.Art wastobeproducedbyculturalworkersundertheleadershipofanenlightened CommunistParty.InrecentChinesehistory,thisexploitationofartforthesakeof (re)consolidatingpoliticalpowersawitsculminationduringtheturbulentdecade oftheso-calledCulturalRevolution(1966­1976). RichardKing'sArt in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966­76isa collectionofninenewinterpretationsontheartsoftheCulturalRevolution.All essaystakedifferentperspectivestorevisitvisualandperformingartsthattranscendedtheirtimes.Despitetheirmultidisciplinaryapproaches,allindividual articlesexplorethechangingmeaningoftheCRartsfromthetimeoftheirformationuptothetwenty-firstcentury.Toenablethereadertorelateeasilytotheart worksdiscussed,allarticlesofferillustrativevisualimages.Thekeyissueofthe bookrevolvesaroundpoliticallyinscribedandideologicallycontaminatedartsof theCRthatbecametransformedandappreciatedindifferentsocioculturalcontextsdecadeslater.Theauthorssetouttoaskobviousalthoughseldomasked questions:WhatdoesitmeanwhenvisitorstocontemporaryexhibitionsofChineseart(whichrecentlyareenjoyinggreatpopularity)arebombardedwithiconic imagesoftheCulturalRevolution?Whathappensinpeople'smindswhentheyare transportedbacktotheCulturalRevolutionand,simultaneously,toacountrythat hasfundamentallychangedinthemeantime?Whatmeaningcanideologically ladenarts,whenturnedintoconsumergoods,offertoaChineseand/ortoan internationalpublictoday?Howdoartistswhosecareershavebeenshapedbythe CulturalRevolutionlookbackandhowdotheyperceiveofthemselvesandtheir worksnowadays? TheoverallpresenceofrecycledMao-timeartifactssuchasMaobadges, clocks,andwristwatches,propagandaposters,andtheLittle Red Booktendto makeusoverlookhowstrangethenotoriouspersistenceofCRartreallyis.How comeithasnotbeenconsignedtothedustbinofhistorybutisnowwidely,once again,appreciated?Itis,indeed,amazingthatChinesecontemporaryartagainand againappropriatesiconicimagesfromtheCulturalRevolutionandthatitsartssaw severalfuriouscomebacks,despitethefactthatWesternreceptionoftheCRasa culturaldesertechoedChineseartists'andintellectuals'scornandderisionofCR art. Embeddedinasystematichistoricalandculturalbackground,RichardKing andJanWallstracethecuriousresurrectionoftheCRartsintheirintroductory essay.TheystatethatbecauseofChina'srapidtransitionfromsocialistausterityto capitalistconsumerism,CRartstarteditssentimentaljourneyandsweptthe marketasshort-livedkitschprovidinganincomeforChina'semergingentrepreneursintheearly1990s.ForthemoresophisticatedconsumerintheWestwho preferstoindulgeinalittleradicalchic,imagesandiconswithanironicorsatiricalpostmoderntwistbecamedesirablecommodities.AndyWarhol'sphilosophyof "makingmoneyisart"easilycomestomind.ApartfromtransformingCRartinto Reviews 253 profitableconsumergoods,somepiecesofarttellyetanotherstory.Comparableto theliteratureofthewounded,theyresembleapersonalreckoningwithshattered beliefsandwastedefforts.ManyartistsinChinaorabroadwhospenttheirformativeyearsduringtheCRarestillexorcizingCRdemonsbyreinventingandrecreatingtheiconographyofthetime. Art in Turmoilleavesnodoubtthat,overthecourseoftime,differentstories havebeeninscribedintoCRart.Atnopoint,however,couldithavebeenreadasa documentaryrecordorevenusedasevidenceofpopularsentiment.Theauthors remindusthatdespiteitsconsiderableskillfulnessanditsembodiedvisionofa utopiansociety,CRartobscurednotonlyPartyinternalwarfarebutalsothe mercilesspersecutionandbetrayaloflovedones,thedesperationamongrusticatedyouth,anddestructionofChina'sheritage,aswellasthebarrennessand stultificationofculturallife.Moreover,artcouldworkasadeadlyweapon.Asis wellknown,thegreatchairmanlaunchedhiscounterattackagainsthisfellow leadersinthe(battle)fieldofthearts. JuliaF.Andrews'sinsightfulhistoricalperiodizationoftheCRandtheartit producedandShelleyDrakeHawks'scasestudyofthepainterShiLu(1919­1982) bothexploretheidiosyncraticrelationshipbetweenartistsandthestate.Intracing CRartthatdevelopedfromthenotoriousbig-characterposterstotheearlycartoonsandtheoptimisticworksofanewsocialistculture,JuliaF.Andrewsconvincinglyrecreatesasocioculturalrealityofthetime:aworldornamentedwith inspiringvisualandauditoryimages,theentiresocietyinpursuitofautopian fantasy.Herpoint,however,isthatChina'stwenty-firstcenturyisbeingbuilton thehumanwreckageleftbytheCulturalRevolution(p.29),ahorrendousperiod maskedwithhappyimagesandsupportedbythenaïvewillingnessandcomplicity ofChina'speople,butneverconfrontedbyChina'sleaders.ShelleyHawkstellsthe dramaticstoryofpersecutionandresistanceofthepainterandpoetShiLu,who wasnotonlyaCommunistPartymember,butoneofthenation'smosthighly regardedpaintersuntil1964,whenoneofhispaintingscameundercriticismfor havingpositionedChairmanMao"isolatedandattheendoftheroad"(p.63).Her articleisbrilliantproofthatresearchontheCRmustnotbelimitedtohistorical documents,butthatvisualartaswellasallsortsofunofficialdocumentssuchas privatenotes,unpublishedpoetry,andsoforthareimportantresourcesforhistoricalinvestigationandpiecingtogetherauthenticnarratives. Nolessdramatic,albeitverydifferent,arethememoirsbyartistsShengtian ZhengandGuXiong,nowadaysbasedinVancouver.Theformer--arenowned curator,arthistorian,andmanagingeditorofYishu (thesolemagazineonChinese artinEnglish)--notonlyrecallsthepersecutionshesufferedasayounginstructor attheZhejiangAcademyofFineArtsinHangzhoubutalsobringsupthequestion ofauthorshipofCRartworks,which,asarule,werecreatedanonymouslyand collectively.Thelater--aninstallationartist,illustrator,andartprofessoratthe UniversityofBritishColumbia--presentshisexperienceasasent-downyouth 254 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.2,2010 throughrecordingsinhissketchbooks.Thesepersonalmemoirsfunctionalsoas keysfordecodinghiscurrentartworksandindividualcareerasartist. Theissueofauthor-andownershipofcollectivelycreatedworksistakenup againinBrittaErickson'sarticleonthenotoriousCRmodelsculptureThe Rent Collection Courtyardfrom1965.Shetracestheheateddebateprovokedbythe famousexpatriateartistCaiGuo-Qiang,whocopiedthesculpturesandpresented themunderhisownnameattheBiennaleinVenice,1999.BrittaEricksonsingles himoutasanartistresortingtohighlyunorthodoxmeansinordertodisrupt existingassumptionsaboutartandculture.Bydoingso,shenotonlyaddresses questionsofintellectualpropertybutprimarilythatofmeaning,whethermeaning isintrinsictoapieceofartorbeingascribedtobyashiftingrhetoric.Howisa pieceofarttobereadandunderstoodwhenthepoliticalrhetoricoftheCRhas beenreplacedbycommercialization(intheWest)andnationalism(inChina)? Doestheworkofartchangebecausetimesandaudienceschange? InhisdiscussionofHuXianpeasantpainting,RalphCroiziercreatesamicrocosmthatreferstothevarioussociopoliticaltransformationsthathavetakenplace overthelastfourdecades.Hetracesoneofthemostfamedculturalproductsof theCRinbecomingasuccessfulpartofacapitalistmarketeconomy.Byfocusing onthepeasants,allegedlythemainagentsofbuildingasocialistsociety,he presentsuswithamasterpieceofhistoricalanalysis,inevitablyhintingatitsbitter ironybyquotingMarx:"Menmaketheirhistory,buttheydonotmakeitasthey please;theydonotmakeitunderself-selectedcircumstances"(p.163). Thefinalthreeessaysinthecollectionfocusonopera,ballet,andfiction. Insteadofaddingtopreviousassumptionsonmodeltheatricalworks,PaulClark http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (2) – Mar 1, 2010

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Abstract

Reviews 251 melodies,suchasnonrepetitivenessofthemainmelody,dovetailingphrases, heterophony,polyrhythmsandsoforth.Healsomakesreferencetopieceswiththe samename/labelinothergeographicallocationsandgenres.However,inthis reviewer'sexperience,samenamesdonotmeanthattheynecessarilybearany resemblancetoeachother.Thenthereisthemysterioussentence:"Thegongche versionsmayalsosuggeststylisticsimilaritieswithsheng-guanmusicwhichare otherwiseinaudible"(p.109). Inconclusion,Ifindthisbookextremelyinterestingandusefultocultural anthropologistsandethnomusicologists.Exceptforthefewshortcomingsenumeratedinthepreviousparagraphs,itiswellwrittenandmakeslivelyreading.The accompanyingDVDisinvaluableforconveyingthefeelingofthecountryside,the people,theirlives,andtheambienceoftheritualsandmusic.Ilookforwardto the author'sforthcomingbookontheanalysisofshawmbandandritualmusic,a dauntingtask,asanyonewhohashadtotranscribefromfieldrecordingsknows. LindyLiMark Lindy Li Mark is a professor emerita of anthropology and ethnomusicology at California State University East Bay, at Hayward. She was also a visiting professor at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and at the University of California, Berkeley. RichardKing,editor,withRalphCroizier,ShentianZheng,andScott Watson.Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966­76. ContemporaryChineseStudies.Vancouver:UniversityofBritishColumbia Press,2010.318pp.Hardcover$94.00,isbn978-0-774-81542-0.Paperback $35.95,isbn978-0-774-81543-7. Artandpowerareinextricablylinked.Anoddcouple,theycomplementandfight eachother,defyingsocialtransformationandpoliticalchangethroughouttime andspace.Whilepowerissubordinatedtothetightreinoftransience,art,oncein awhile,canescapeimpermanencetostriveforeternity.Thisseemstobepartof thereasonwhypowerintuitivelyseeksthevicinityofart. InthePeople'sRepublicofChina(PRC),thisrelationshiplongsincebecame institutionalized--arthasnotjustbeensomesortofpreservativeforpowerbut bluntlyputintoitsservice.Ingeneral,mostsocialistcountriesnevermadea secret ofclearlylimitingarttoaservant'sroleandLenin'smemorablemetaphorof © 2011 by University of Hawai`i Press 252 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.2,2010 "cogsandscrews"intherevolutionarymachinemadethispointunequivocal.Art wastobeproducedbyculturalworkersundertheleadershipofanenlightened CommunistParty.InrecentChinesehistory,thisexploitationofartforthesakeof (re)consolidatingpoliticalpowersawitsculminationduringtheturbulentdecade oftheso-calledCulturalRevolution(1966­1976). RichardKing'sArt in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966­76isa collectionofninenewinterpretationsontheartsoftheCulturalRevolution.All essaystakedifferentperspectivestorevisitvisualandperformingartsthattranscendedtheirtimes.Despitetheirmultidisciplinaryapproaches,allindividual articlesexplorethechangingmeaningoftheCRartsfromthetimeoftheirformationuptothetwenty-firstcentury.Toenablethereadertorelateeasilytotheart worksdiscussed,allarticlesofferillustrativevisualimages.Thekeyissueofthe bookrevolvesaroundpoliticallyinscribedandideologicallycontaminatedartsof theCRthatbecametransformedandappreciatedindifferentsocioculturalcontextsdecadeslater.Theauthorssetouttoaskobviousalthoughseldomasked questions:WhatdoesitmeanwhenvisitorstocontemporaryexhibitionsofChineseart(whichrecentlyareenjoyinggreatpopularity)arebombardedwithiconic imagesoftheCulturalRevolution?Whathappensinpeople'smindswhentheyare transportedbacktotheCulturalRevolutionand,simultaneously,toacountrythat hasfundamentallychangedinthemeantime?Whatmeaningcanideologically ladenarts,whenturnedintoconsumergoods,offertoaChineseand/ortoan internationalpublictoday?Howdoartistswhosecareershavebeenshapedbythe CulturalRevolutionlookbackandhowdotheyperceiveofthemselvesandtheir worksnowadays? TheoverallpresenceofrecycledMao-timeartifactssuchasMaobadges, clocks,andwristwatches,propagandaposters,andtheLittle Red Booktendto makeusoverlookhowstrangethenotoriouspersistenceofCRartreallyis.How comeithasnotbeenconsignedtothedustbinofhistorybutisnowwidely,once again,appreciated?Itis,indeed,amazingthatChinesecontemporaryartagainand againappropriatesiconicimagesfromtheCulturalRevolutionandthatitsartssaw severalfuriouscomebacks,despitethefactthatWesternreceptionoftheCRasa culturaldesertechoedChineseartists'andintellectuals'scornandderisionofCR art. Embeddedinasystematichistoricalandculturalbackground,RichardKing andJanWallstracethecuriousresurrectionoftheCRartsintheirintroductory essay.TheystatethatbecauseofChina'srapidtransitionfromsocialistausterityto capitalistconsumerism,CRartstarteditssentimentaljourneyandsweptthe marketasshort-livedkitschprovidinganincomeforChina'semergingentrepreneursintheearly1990s.ForthemoresophisticatedconsumerintheWestwho preferstoindulgeinalittleradicalchic,imagesandiconswithanironicorsatiricalpostmoderntwistbecamedesirablecommodities.AndyWarhol'sphilosophyof "makingmoneyisart"easilycomestomind.ApartfromtransformingCRartinto Reviews 253 profitableconsumergoods,somepiecesofarttellyetanotherstory.Comparableto theliteratureofthewounded,theyresembleapersonalreckoningwithshattered beliefsandwastedefforts.ManyartistsinChinaorabroadwhospenttheirformativeyearsduringtheCRarestillexorcizingCRdemonsbyreinventingandrecreatingtheiconographyofthetime. Art in Turmoilleavesnodoubtthat,overthecourseoftime,differentstories havebeeninscribedintoCRart.Atnopoint,however,couldithavebeenreadasa documentaryrecordorevenusedasevidenceofpopularsentiment.Theauthors remindusthatdespiteitsconsiderableskillfulnessanditsembodiedvisionofa utopiansociety,CRartobscurednotonlyPartyinternalwarfarebutalsothe mercilesspersecutionandbetrayaloflovedones,thedesperationamongrusticatedyouth,anddestructionofChina'sheritage,aswellasthebarrennessand stultificationofculturallife.Moreover,artcouldworkasadeadlyweapon.Asis wellknown,thegreatchairmanlaunchedhiscounterattackagainsthisfellow leadersinthe(battle)fieldofthearts. JuliaF.Andrews'sinsightfulhistoricalperiodizationoftheCRandtheartit producedandShelleyDrakeHawks'scasestudyofthepainterShiLu(1919­1982) bothexploretheidiosyncraticrelationshipbetweenartistsandthestate.Intracing CRartthatdevelopedfromthenotoriousbig-characterposterstotheearlycartoonsandtheoptimisticworksofanewsocialistculture,JuliaF.Andrewsconvincinglyrecreatesasocioculturalrealityofthetime:aworldornamentedwith inspiringvisualandauditoryimages,theentiresocietyinpursuitofautopian fantasy.Herpoint,however,isthatChina'stwenty-firstcenturyisbeingbuilton thehumanwreckageleftbytheCulturalRevolution(p.29),ahorrendousperiod maskedwithhappyimagesandsupportedbythenaïvewillingnessandcomplicity ofChina'speople,butneverconfrontedbyChina'sleaders.ShelleyHawkstellsthe dramaticstoryofpersecutionandresistanceofthepainterandpoetShiLu,who wasnotonlyaCommunistPartymember,butoneofthenation'smosthighly regardedpaintersuntil1964,whenoneofhispaintingscameundercriticismfor havingpositionedChairmanMao"isolatedandattheendoftheroad"(p.63).Her articleisbrilliantproofthatresearchontheCRmustnotbelimitedtohistorical documents,butthatvisualartaswellasallsortsofunofficialdocumentssuchas privatenotes,unpublishedpoetry,andsoforthareimportantresourcesforhistoricalinvestigationandpiecingtogetherauthenticnarratives. Nolessdramatic,albeitverydifferent,arethememoirsbyartistsShengtian ZhengandGuXiong,nowadaysbasedinVancouver.Theformer--arenowned curator,arthistorian,andmanagingeditorofYishu (thesolemagazineonChinese artinEnglish)--notonlyrecallsthepersecutionshesufferedasayounginstructor attheZhejiangAcademyofFineArtsinHangzhoubutalsobringsupthequestion ofauthorshipofCRartworks,which,asarule,werecreatedanonymouslyand collectively.Thelater--aninstallationartist,illustrator,andartprofessoratthe UniversityofBritishColumbia--presentshisexperienceasasent-downyouth 254 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.2,2010 throughrecordingsinhissketchbooks.Thesepersonalmemoirsfunctionalsoas keysfordecodinghiscurrentartworksandindividualcareerasartist. Theissueofauthor-andownershipofcollectivelycreatedworksistakenup againinBrittaErickson'sarticleonthenotoriousCRmodelsculptureThe Rent Collection Courtyardfrom1965.Shetracestheheateddebateprovokedbythe famousexpatriateartistCaiGuo-Qiang,whocopiedthesculpturesandpresented themunderhisownnameattheBiennaleinVenice,1999.BrittaEricksonsingles himoutasanartistresortingtohighlyunorthodoxmeansinordertodisrupt existingassumptionsaboutartandculture.Bydoingso,shenotonlyaddresses questionsofintellectualpropertybutprimarilythatofmeaning,whethermeaning isintrinsictoapieceofartorbeingascribedtobyashiftingrhetoric.Howisa pieceofarttobereadandunderstoodwhenthepoliticalrhetoricoftheCRhas beenreplacedbycommercialization(intheWest)andnationalism(inChina)? Doestheworkofartchangebecausetimesandaudienceschange? InhisdiscussionofHuXianpeasantpainting,RalphCroiziercreatesamicrocosmthatreferstothevarioussociopoliticaltransformationsthathavetakenplace overthelastfourdecades.Hetracesoneofthemostfamedculturalproductsof theCRinbecomingasuccessfulpartofacapitalistmarketeconomy.Byfocusing onthepeasants,allegedlythemainagentsofbuildingasocialistsociety,he presentsuswithamasterpieceofhistoricalanalysis,inevitablyhintingatitsbitter ironybyquotingMarx:"Menmaketheirhistory,buttheydonotmakeitasthey please;theydonotmakeitunderself-selectedcircumstances"(p.163). Thefinalthreeessaysinthecollectionfocusonopera,ballet,andfiction. Insteadofaddingtopreviousassumptionsonmodeltheatricalworks,PaulClark

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China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Mar 1, 2010

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