Geremie Barmé was the Founding Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University and is the Editor of China Heritage. His books include The Forbidden City (Wonders of the World) and In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture. (November 2017)
by Lu Xun, edited by Eileen J. Cheng and Kirk A. Denton
A New Literary History of Modern China
edited by David Der-wei Wang
Addressing an audience at the Hong Kong YMCA in February 1927, the writer Lu Xun (the pen name of Zhou Shuren, 1881–1936) warned that despite ten years of literary revolution and the promotion of a written vernacular language, Chinese people had still not found a voice. They were all living …
“Theater of the World” is an account of two important decades in that tortuous journey and it revisits the era of China’s global emergence from an academic and inclusive curatorial perspective. Crucially valuable is the effort made to redress an imbalance in the general international understanding of contemporary Chinese art, one which has previously over-emphasized what the art critic Jed Perl has called “radical chic with blood on its hands.” Regardless, the curators of “Theater,” partly under the influence of Wang Hui, an establishment “new Marxist” favored by left-leaning Western academics, follow the trend of earlier exhibitions to celebrate too readily vacuous critiques of capitalism, to unearth supposed acts of resistance in artistic gestures, and to extol experimental forays as rebellions in miniature.