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Extra resources for Chinese Modernity and the Individual Psyche

Sample text

The opportunity structure for artists began to change again in the late 1990s as global market forces created new prospects for Chinese artists to show their works in private studios and galleries, as well as to sell to foreign collectors. Several of today’s most famous Chinese artists helped to put Chinese contemporary art on the map during the “Mao craze” of the late 1990s, which popularized the reinterpretation of socialist icons to mock the juxtaposition of the socialist ideals espoused by the state and the realities of a changing market and society.

As art and culture shifted from an association with political culture to one with entertainment culture, dance and art in general came to be seen as increasingly frivolous and divorced from cultural meaning. At the same time, the economic stability that once came from employment as a state-employed artist slowly declined, leaving artists and cultural workers without a clear sense of how to make a living in their respective fields. As artistic laborers who work with their bodies, dancers have been even more vulnerable than others to the transformations in artistic value that have accompanied changes in genre, employment conditions, and status of artistic and cultural workers.

3). These “discarded” items, so recently definitive of the social and material realities that defined the artist’s life, are clear reminders of what is lost, given away, tossed aside, forgotten, or devalued as consumerism, pop culture, and the market constantly shape and reshape Chinese social and material life. As products of the first generation to come of age and be socialized entirely in a modern, consumer-oriented, and rapidly urbanizing and marketizing Chinese society, Qiu and other Post-70s artists have made the “cruel” transitions from youth into adulthood a focal point of their art.

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