Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art
Unscrolled documents and expands on the critical role of tradition in Chinese contemporary art, illustrated by images and new essays from both Chinese and Western perspectives. The book elaborates on the reasons why artists return to tradition as inspiration, including anxieties around national identity in a globalizing art world, providing an opportunity to reflect on how cultural traditions have shaped earlier generations of Chinese contemporary artists, as well as the liberties that emerging artists now claim to transform and integrate tradition into their own practices. Featuring Chinese contemporary artists who use digital animation, installation and other progressive mediums, Unscrolled demonstrates how tradition can be transformed by individual experiences, contemporary challenges and present-day concerns. Interviews with distinguished scholars and curators, including Wu Hung and Hou Hanru, address China's cultural patrimony as a source of contemporary artistic practice throughout the early 1980s and 90s, while focusing more explicitly on the present as it relates to tradition and redressing historical veracity. Illustrations of artworks that undertake literal representations of tradition, as well as those that are less evidently but equally influenced by Chinese cultural heritage, expose the continuous transformation of culture and the ways in which artists are redefining Chinese contemporary art. Chinese artists today have learned to negotiate tradition within the context of a global art community. The idea of a Chinese cultural essence has become preserved in tradition, maintaining its function as a vehicle to create something singular, unique, distinctive and subjective. Chinese contemporary artists' engagement with tradition provides us with a myriad of means to understand and re-examine its relevance in present-day visual culture. Features the work of Xu Bing, Ji Yunfei, Liu Jianhua, Sun Xun, Chen Shaoxiong, Zhang Enli, Qiu Shihua, MadeIn Company, Jennifer Ma and many others.
Diana Freundl: Assistant Curator at Vancouver Art Gallery. Carol Yinghua Lu: Carol Yinghua Lu is a curator, art critic and writer who lives and works in Beijing. Zheng Shengtian: A scholar, artist, independent curator and Managing Editor of Yishu, an academic journal of contemporary Chinese art and culture.