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COLLECTIVE IDENTITY: FROM CULTURAL REVOLUTION TO CONTEMPORARY ART
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13 Jul 2007 - 02 Sep 2007

This exhibition, curated by UK-based Chinese curator Jiang Jiehong, explores the theme of collective identity in contemporary Chinese art. The roots of this motif lie in the mass assemblies that have become a familiar phenomenon of political movements since the advent of the People's Republic in 1949, in particular the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The collective hysteria of the Mao era; the hypnotic allure of conformity; the conflicts between family and society, private and public, and individual and collective, are all themes that can be traced to this time, and which have become some of the most persistent ones favoured by Chinese contemporary artists today. Jiang argues that the Cultural Revolution has been both a burden from which Chinese contemporary artists cannot escape and also a legacy, which defines them in an increasingly global art world.

This exhibition includes monumental photographic works by Chi Peng, Miao Xiaochun, Wang Chuan, and Bai Yiluo; paintings and installations by Liu Dahong, Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Jinsong, Wu Yiming and Li Songsong, as well as film and video by Yang Zhenzhong, and Yang Fudong, whose epic 5-part work 'Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest' is featured at this year's Venice Biennale.

It has been forty years since the rupturous events of the Cultural Revolution, in which Mao Zedong sought to re-new culture by mounting a mass campaign targeting the 'Four Olds': old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits of the social elite. Artists, intellectuals and their institutions were almost universally persecuted but ironically art was to perform an important function as propaganda, and particularly in the deification of Mao at collective as well as individual level.

The Cultural Revolution as both a burden and a legacy to Chinese contemporary artists is the subject of Jiang's book, Burden or Legacy: From Cultural Revolution to Contemporary Art published by the Hong Kong University Press, which will be launched at the exhibition preview. Dr Jiang has been based in the UK since 1998 and has recently been appointed Director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at UCE Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.

The exhibition preview and book launch will take place at the Museum on Thursday 12th July from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. The exhibition's curator, and author of Burden or Legacy, Jiang Jiehong, and some of the artists featured in the exhibition will be present. The Hong Kong University Press will also be offering Burden or Legacy at a specially discounted price at the book launch. Members of the press are warmly invited to attend.

On Saturday 14th July from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, the curator and artists will discuss the impact of the Cultural Revolution on Chinese contemporary art at the Museum. This event will be conducted in putonghua, and is free and open to public. No registration required.

 

Liu Dahong

A Tale of Two Cities

 1998 

 Oil on canvas (diptych) 241 x 202 cm

 (Collection of Hong Kong Museum of Art) 


Miao Xiaochun 

Qing (Celebration)

 2002

Photograph 400 x 500 cm 

 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

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