by Susan NYC
Art in Modern China
It was a missed blessing and we are still now trying to really capture and grasp the consequences. After the cultural revolution, the Chinese people yearned for some form of freedom, some sort of narrative that would in many ways give leeway to the suppressed feelings which culture have suffered under Mao.
First the curators are Germans, in the opening of the Chinese National Museum, which sends a clear message of their own insecurities. The exhibition is a mix of the Chinese recreation of the history and glories of the Party while worshiping the western ways with the title “the celebration of the European Enlightenment”. The construction took 11 years, and often interrupted as the party could not agree which path to take. This is dichotomy that is now deep in the modern Chinese zeitgeist.
One may agree or disagree with his cultural stands, but no one can deny that he had a clear vision; Mao The Leader, Mao the Sun that shines over China. They are unsure which way to go. Perhaps the explanation lies in precisely the lack of any cultural value that was left after Mao. All that succeeded after that can hardly be expressed in one line or perhaps it can be better described as many have already expressed, a lie, a fairy tale made of cement, glass and steel.
The museum architects, also Germans, have made comments how the Regime main concern; was that the museum was built as the biggest as far as the size; not the cultural or artistic value. The new museum also reflects another Sino – German passion for the massive structures to celebrate the conquest of power.
This is a problematic and dangerous mix that history has shown the dire outcomes when the people are subjected to these ideals but the Germans do share with Chinese, similar values; the worship of order and power. The museum is located far from the common people, and they will also be far from any contact to the art there presented.
Outside, one may witness the ever so far reaching and ominous presence of the army with clinically chosen soldiers marching outside the museum in the German designed choreography to display of military order and power, now made in China.The National Museum is in many ways may best represent the present Chinese modern culture; a vast blank space, meticulously guarded, lavishly built for the few which is likely to remain empty, most of the time, for except of the selected tours or foreign visitors that may come to admire the new Chinese wealth. Inside the most acclaimed object is described as “precious national treasures” is the famous Deng’s cowboy hat used in a rodeo while visiting the US.