Sunday, July 15, 2007

Art for Justice - Tokyo 7.14.07

The artist’s first taste of successful shock realism came with another series of sculptures four years ago in which he depicted the lives of peasants from his native Henan Province. The 12 figures in that series included an elderly woman sitting alone, threadbare migrant workers and rural schoolteachers.

The work drew critical praise when it was introduced at a gallery in Beijing. But when the show began touring other venues in the capital later that year, displayed on the grounds of two middle-class housing developments and at China Agricultural University, it drew strong protests, with residents and students attacking it as vulgar, striking the artist and knocking over some of the figures. The university exhibition had to be canceled after only two hours. “These were beggars,” said one commentator in a school newspaper. “It’s sick.” Another complained, “Rural areas have progress, too. Why not show that?”

Mr. Zhang’s answer is that China these days is consumed with what he calls a “bubble reality.” Euphemism and sentimentality have deep roots in Chinese art, but on top of this has come a kind of idealizing self-censorship reinforced by the state propaganda system and further fueled by years of strong growth.

~ The latest article, "Carving Plight of Coal Miners, He Churns China," from the New York Times.

So much great work still needs to be done.

梅ちゃん at 3:42:00 AM



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