arts Tag

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...

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...

A new brand of Chinese political artists are using the once borderless expanse of cyberspace as a virtual studio, a collaboration space and a digital museum, crowdsourcing and sharing work about China that could never be shown there. But as Beijing’s influence—and censorship—extends beyond China’s...

Twenty years after the Chinese authorities decided to radically reform the country’s state industry, where does public memory of the nation’s socialist industrialisation reside? What aspects of the socialist path to modernity do officials or private citizens monumentalise, if any at all?...

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...

Can ancient Chinese poetry be a form of resistance? Yes, according to folk singer Zhou Yunpeng, who in 'The Cow and the Goat Descend the Mountain' presents a collection of ancient Chinese poems set to music. In his opinion, ‘in the contemporary world, nostalgia, distance,...

In Behemoth, director Zhao Liang combines a poetic apocalyptic vision with documentary footage from Inner Mongolia’s grasslands. His camera surveys landscapes that have been destroyed by mining operations in order to fuel China’s breakneck urbanisation, which itself appears as a shimmering, uninhabitable fantasy. Through a...