The collection, interpretation and display of art from the People’s Republic of China, and particularly the art of the Cultural Revolution, have been problematic for museums. These objects challenge our perception of ’Chineseness’ and their style, content and the means of their production question accepted notions of how we perceive art. This book links art history, museology and visual culture studies to examine how museums have attempted to reveal, discuss and resolve some of these issues. Amy Jane Barnes addresses a series of related issues associated with collection and display: how museums deal with difficult and controversial subjects; the role they play in mediating between the object and the audience; the role of the Other in the creation of Self and national identities; the nature, role and function of art in society; the museum as image-maker; the impact of communism (and Maoism) on the cultural history of the twentieth-century; and the appropriation of communist visual iconography. This book will be of interest to researchers and students of museology, visual and cultural studies as well as scholars of Chinese and revolutionary art.
’This book brings together significant first-hand research that highlights a specific and unique period of collecting along with a highly significant political moment of history in China. It brings out debates about collecting practices, curatorship and British China hands� in an intelligent, thoughtful way which is highly readable. It is a fascinating insight into a very specific relationship that links to broader issues of exhibiting, knowledge production and China-West relations and the politics and power structures of cultural institutions.’ Katie Hill, Sotheby's Institute of Art and OCCA, Office of Contemporary Chinese Art, Oxford, UK
’I very much enjoyed this well-written and highly informative book, and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone with an interest in the display of contemporary culture and history.’ maozhang.net
'…deserves a wide readership … Barnes’ book is a great achievement.' Museum Anthropology Review