Making the New World

The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution

  • Weng-Naiqiang-1966-China-Conference-2016

    Weng Naiqian,1966, courtesy Centre for Chinese Visual Arts

Past Event

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Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, Making the New World: the Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution, is a two-day international conference programmed by the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery.

Inviting researchers, artists, designers, curators and practitioners at all stages of their careers worldwide to reassess the significance of the arts and culture of the Cultural Revolution, the 9th CCVA Annual Conference reflects upon their impacts on everyday life in China within socio-political, cultural and global contexts.

Speakers include Craig Clunas, Chris Berry and Harriet Evans. Convened by Joshua Jiang.

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design, media and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies.


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£17.50/£14.50 conc (1 day)
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In the summer of 1966, Mao’s Cultural Revolution reached its climax across the country in the pursuit of ‘a new world’ freed from the ‘Four Olds’ – ‘old ideas, culture, customs and old habits of the exploiting classes’. This period has often been referred to as a ‘cultural desert’ and has been absent from Chinese art history. However, the Chinese Cultural Revolution has produced some of the most significant cultural products of the twentieth century China. It has covered all fields of creative practice – from public sculpture to painting and performance; from calligraphy to printmaking; from ceramics to fashion and textiles; from furniture and product design to architecture.

Today, when revisiting the Cultural Revolution half of a century later, what kind of new aesthetics, ideologies and culture have been shaped through the visual, audio, performative and immersive experiences of that time? What were the relationships between artists and audiences, between makers, disseminators and participants? Finally, what are the cultural impacts of the arts of the Cultural Revolution on contemporary art, design and creative practices, as well as on everyday experience within and beyond China?

Programme: Day 1

11.00-11.20         Registration

11.20-11.30         Welcome

11.30-12.15         Richard King

Cultural Policy for A Heroic Age: the Summary

12.15-12.30         Q&A

12.30-13.30         Break

Panel one

13.30-13.50         Minerva Inwald

The Socialist Art Palace: early Cultural Revolution art exhibitions

13.50-14.10        Wang Gerui

Ambivalence in Li Keran’s Jinggang Mountain: negotiating artistic agency and state obligation during the Cultural Revolution

14.10-14.30        Vivian Li

Becoming A Model Artwork: the Rent Collection Courtyard

14.30-14.50        Christine Ho

Between Arts and Mass Criticism: perceiving the beautiful through Cultural Revolution audiences

14.50-15.30        Panel discussion chaired by Craig Clunas

15.30-16.00         Break

Panel two

16.00-16.20         Corey Schultz

The Maoist Peasant Figure and Its Affective Importance in Contemporary Chinese Visual Culture

16.20-16.40        Zhang Li

Agender Performance: aesthetic discipline of heroines in the Cultural Revolution

16.40-17.00        Linda Pittwood

Wearing Mao’s Trousers: the methods and consequences of ‘ungendering’ the body during the Chinese Cultural Revolution

17.00-17.30         Panel discussion chaired by Harriet Evans

Programme: Day 2

11.00-11.20         Registration

11.20-11.30         Welcome

11.30-12.15         A conversation with painter Shen Jiawei

12.15-12.30         Q&A

12.30-13.30         Break

Panel three

13.30-13.50         Martin Mulloy

Photography and the Cultural Revolution

13.50-14.10        Andreas Steen

Propaganda on Shellac, Vinyl and Plastic: the politics of record production during the Cultural Revolution in China

14.10-14.30        Eldon Pei

The Atom Bomb Is A Celluloid Tiger

14.30-14.50        Wang Rujie

Image-Music-Text: the rhetoric of the arts from the Cultural Revolution

14.50-15.30        Panel discussion chaired by Jiang Jiehong

15.30-16.00         Break

Panel four

16.00-16.20         Mark Nash & Rosalind Delmar

Screen Theory and the Cultural Revolution Cinema

16.20-16.40        Yawen Ludden

From Model Opera to Model Society: Jiang Qing, Yu Huiyong, and Yangbanxi

16.40-17.30        Panel discussion chaired Chris Berry