Arts and Culture

What follows is a fictionalised account of the last days of Shi Yang (1889–1923) based on the prison diaries included in the commemorative volume Shi Yang jinian wenji (Museum of the 7 February Massacre, Wuhan 1988). Shi Yang was a weiquan lawyer ante litteram, and...

Shot over a six-year period (2009–2015) mainly in the industrial heartland of south China—a major hub in the global supply chain—the 2017 film We the Workers (xiongnian zhi pan) follows labour activists as they find common grounds with workers, helping them to negotiate with local...

In 2013, Zhang Kaiqin, Wu Dan, Liu He, Lei Sheng, and I opened Handshake 302, an independent art space located in a 12.5-square-metre efficiency apartment in Baishizhou—Shenzhen’s most iconic urban village. The space functions as a gallery or an apartment, depending on the needs of...

Although industrial landscapes today appear as one of the most alien of art forms, they were once fundamental as backgrounds of socialist realist paintings. This essay examines the legacies of two masters of the genre in China and North Korea—Song Wenzhi (1919–1999) and Chōng Yōngman...

The 2015 documentary The Chinese Mayor by Zhou Hao documents the story of Datong, Shanxi province, as its leaders embark on an ambitious plan to transform the city into a tourist destination. Still, although the filmmakers devote sustained attention to the relocated residents and their...

Lu Xun today lives a new life in his homeland as well as abroad. However, given the vastness and unevenness of his oeuvre, not all his works receive the same attention. In particular, one collection of short stories stands out for their neglect: Old Tales...

After spending years advocating for human and civil rights in China, Ai Weiwei is now employing his artistic abilities and his sizeable social media presence to sensitise the West to the plight of the refugees who attempt to reach Europe from the Middle East and...

Since the 1980s the Chinese Communist Party has condemned the Cultural Revolution as ‘ten years of chaos’. Nevertheless, so far there has been very little discussion on the topic in the public sphere in China. This essay looks into how private collections of red relics...

On 24 February 2017, photographer Ren Hang leapt to his death from a twenty-eight-floor building in Beijing. He had not yet turned thirty, but his work had already attracted considerable international attention. This essay retraces the path of Ren’s life, contextualising it within the rapidly...