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Art in China

March 2, 2015
Marisa Zawacki
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Ying/yang of contemporary art

Ying and Yang: An ancient Chinese philosophy. It is much more than just a pair of opposites. It conveys the idea that each of the opposites is dependent on the other, and how they continuously transform from one into the other. Can this ancient philosophy be used to interpret and understand the contemporary art culture in China? This is an auto ethnographic journal from a trip to China in December 2014 that explores a combination of my own perceptions and experiences with contemporary Chinese art. I parallel some of my thoughts and reflections rooted in my own worldview with those of Chinese friends that I met throughout my journey. I set out to explore Chinese contemporary art and its link to culture. I wanted to determine how globalization has impacted contemporary art in China. Is it a blend of old and new China? Does it attempt to marry Chinese and Western culture? Is it a reflection of Chinese culture or is it aspirational? Where is contemporary art displayed and how is it consumed by ordinary Chinese citizens? I will compare and contrast the consumption of contemporary art in China and the West.

Arts-based inquiry

Before embarking on this arts-based research project, I thought it was important to highlight the link between art and culture. According to many, art expresses an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a worldview. It is a component of culture. Art transmits ideas and values inherent in every culture across space and time. It can be representative of many aspects of culture, including material, consumer and popular culture. Its role changes over time. Today, art is an evolving and global concept, open to new interpretation, too fluid to be pinned down. By better understanding the contemporary art scene in China, I hope to get an insight into Chinese culture.

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Marisa is currently a student in the MA in Intercultural and International Communication program.