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The Market as Imaginary in Post-Mao China

Date: 1 March 2016 (Tuesday) 
Time: 5:00-6:00pm
Venue: Room 7.58, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus

In Hong Kong and China today, the art market is an influential, established and much debated institution. Yet its emergence on the mainland goes back only a few decades, before which point state support for the arts was dominant.

This paper examines the debates that emerged following the economic and institutional reforms that began the creation of the modern Chinese art market in the 1980s. Initially, the first sales were mounted by state agencies and museums under pressure to generate income. But avant-garde artists were also quick to seize on the opportunities the market offered for artistic experimentation and institutional critique, and to make (and sell) new forms of art.

Jane DeBevoise examines this turbulent and formative period with reference to some of its key events, such as the China Avant/Garde Exhibition of 1989, and the work, ideas and interventions of pioneering artists, including Huang Yongping, Wu Shanzhuan, and Geng Jianyi. She argues that the post-Mao art market was not only a set of institutions and practices but also an imaginary, one from which artists of the post-cultural revolution era could draw legitimation and support.

Speaker: Jane Debevoise

Jane Debevoise is Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and New York (since 2005), and the author Between State and Market: Chinese Contemporary Art in the Post-Mao Era (Brill 2014). She holds an MA from UC Berkeley and a PhD in art history from the University of Hong Kong (2009).

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