The Long Shadow:
The Legacy of Socialist Realism in Contemporary Art in China from Post-Mao Era to the Present

  • The Long Shadow:
    "Salon Salon: Fine Art Practices from 1972 to 1982 in Profile - A Beijing Perspective", installation view. Courtesy Liu Ding

From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: The Long Shadow of Socialist Realism in Chinese Contemporary Art is a research project initiated by artist Liu Ding and art critic Carol Yinghua Lu.

This ongoing research examines the historical narratives and ideological construct of Chinese contemporary art in a timeframe of 67 years since 1949, the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It considers the structural forces that came into being with the formation of Socialist Realism as a dominant principle of artistic practice throughout the three decades since the 1940s, and how such structural forces and ideological constructs remain as the primary foundation for artistic practice and evaluation in contemporary times.

This talk will consist of two parts. The first part will be presented by Carol Yinghua Lu, on the background and motivations for this research. The second part will be presented by Liu Ding and translated from Chinese to English by Lu. Liu Ding will give specific examples, interweaving his own artworks and their collaborative exhibition projects. These specific practices will demonstrate how they translate their findings and understandings from this research into the making of both artworks and exhibitions.

Liu Ding

is a Beijing-based artist and curator. His artistic and curatorial practice focuses on multiple viewpoints and modes of description, exploring a trajectory of discursive thoughts that connect the historical and the contemporary. His work seeks to broaden possibilities for a more manifold understanding in relation to the historical narrative of subjectivity within Chinese art. He has participated in international biennials such as: Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2015); Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane (2015); Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai (2014); Prospect 3 New Orleans, New Orleans (2014); Taipei Biennial, Taipei (2012); Chinese Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennial, Venice (2009); Media City Seoul, Seoul (2008); and Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou (2005).

Carol Yinghua Lu

is an art critic and curator. She is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Melbourne. She is a contributing editor at Frieze and is on the advisory board of The Exhibitionist. Lu was on the jury for the Golden Lion Award at the 2011 Venice Biennale. She also served as co-artistic director of the 2012 Gwangju Biennale and co-curator of the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale in 2012. From 2012 to 2015, she was the artistic director and chief curator of OCAT Shenzhen. Lu was the first visiting fellow in the Asia-Pacific Fellowship program at the Tate Research Centre in 2013.

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