This book provides an in-depth and thematic analysis of socially engaged art in Mainland China, exploring its critical responses to and creative interventions in China’s top-down, pro-urban, and profit-oriented socioeconomic transformations. It focuses on the socially conscious practices of eight art professionals who assume the role of artist, critic, curator, educator, cultural entrepreneur, and social activist, among others, as they strive to expose the injustice and inequality many Chinese people have suffered, raise public awareness of pressing social and environmental problems, and invent new ways and infrastructures to support various underprivileged social groups.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Voices from Below: the Potential of Art Activism Part I: Social Criticism through Art 1. Art Criticism, Exhibition, and Citizen Politics: Wang Nanming and the Theory of Critical Art 2. Waste, Pollution, and Grassroots Environment Activism: Wang Jiuliang and the Art of Documenting Part II: Place Construction with Art 3. Art, Urban Renewal / Cultural Heritage Conservation, and Grassroots Community Building: Zheng Dazhen and the Maker of Lifestyle 4. Art and Place-Making for the People: Zuo Jing and the Trilogy of Rural Reconstruction Part III: Personal Development in Art 5. From Representation to Collaboration: Wen Fang and Her Poverty Alleviation Art 6. The Nurture Effect: Hu Jianqiang, Wang Jun and Art for Children Conclusion: Art and the Right to Bottom-up Social Changes
Meiqin Wang is Professor in the Department of Art at California State University, Northridge, USA.
"This significant monograph sketches a vivid portrait of the developing ecosystem of socially engaged art in contemporary China, as well as of the efforts and struggles of the artists and stakeholders involved. ...Wang convincingly argues that art provides a privileged view into these political and aesthetic complexities. Her work provides a valuable opening into a new domain of research on Chinese contemporary art."
"Meiqin Wang’s monograph is an important publication that sheds light on cultural activism in China and its transformative character, which advances new bottom-up initiatives and creates alternative sites of knowledge production. Overall, this significant publication presents one of the first scholarly treatments of this topic and fills a gap in existing literature on socially engaged art criticism, thus providing a valuable contribution to the field of contemporary Chinese art."
--Yishu, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art