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Children of Marx and Coca-Cola

Chinese Avant-garde Art and Independent Cinema

Xiaoping Lin

Publication Year: 2010

Children of Marx and Coca-Cola affords a deep study of Chinese avant-garde art and independent cinema from the mid-1990s to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Informed by the author’s experience in Beijing and New York—global cities with extensive access to an emergent transnational Chinese visual culture—this work situates selected artworks and films in the context of Chinese nationalism and post-socialism and against the background of the capitalist globalization that has so radically affected contemporary China. It juxtaposes and compares artists and independent filmmakers from a number of intertwined perspectives, particularly in their shared avant-garde postures and perceptions.

Xiaoping Lin provides illuminating close readings of a variety of visual texts and artistic practices, including installation, performance, painting, photography, video, and film. Throughout he sustains a theoretical discussion of representative artworks and films and succeeds in delineating a variegated postsocialist cultural landscape saturated by market forces, confused values, and lost faith. This refreshing approach is due to Lin’s ability to tackle both Chinese art and cinema rigorously within a shared discursive space. He, for example, aptly conceptualizes a central thematic concern in both genres as "postsocialist trauma" aggravated by capitalist globalization. By thus focusing exclusively on the two parallel and often intersecting movements or phenomena in the visual arts, his work brings about a fruitful dialogue between the narrow field of traditional art history and visual studies more generally.

Children of Marx and Coca-Cola will be a major contribution to China studies, art history, film studies, and cultural studies. Multiple audiences—specialists, teachers, and students in these disciplines, as well as general readers with an interest in contemporary Chinese society and culture—will find that this work fulfills an urgent need for sophisticated analysis of China’s cultural production as it assumes a key role in capitalist globalization.

30 illus.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Series: Critical Interventions

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The author wishes to express his sincere thanks to the following individuals and institution for their help and support: Rasheed Araeen, Drew Bryan, Cai Guoqiang, Patricia Crosby, Cheri Dunn, Hao Jian, Huang Du, Alex Krylov, Lu Hao, Sheldon H. Lu, Patricia Metz, Ziauddin Sardar, Wang Chao, Wang Guangyi, Wang Guofeng, Xu Bing, ...

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Introduction: Reading Chinese Avant-garde Art and Independent Cinema in Context

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pp. 1-30

This book is a study of Chinese art and cinema in the context of postsocialist China and capitalist globalization. In this book, I draw on my experiences in Beijing and New York, the two “global cities,”1 where a variety of art exhibitions, film festivals, academic conferences, and museum programs provide access ...

Part 1: Re-creating Urban Space in Avant-garde Art

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Chapter 1. Discourse and Displacement: Contemplating Beijing’s Urban Landscape

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pp. 33-56

In July 1998, “Space and Vision: The Impression of Transmuting Daily Lives in Beijing,” an exhibition of five Chinese avant-garde artists curated by Huang Du (who invited me to attend the show), opened for two days at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Beijing, a small, little-known museum that for the past decades has provided artists ...

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Chapter 2. Beijing: Yin Xiuzhen’s The Ruined City

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pp. 57-71

In the 1950s, the Qianmen Gate was preserved as a significant structure along Beijing’s north-south axis.1 In the summer of 2008, the restoration of a “deteriorated” Qianmen Street2 was completed in time to attract Olympic tourists. The Beijing government had poured 9.2 billion yuan into renovation work on Qianmen ...

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Chapter 3. Globalism or Nationalism?: Cai Guoqiang, Zhang Huan, and Xu Bing in New York

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pp. 72-88

In spring 2003, photographs of Chinatown taken by Lia Chang after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were on view as part of the exhibition “Recovering Chinatown: The 9/11 Collection,” held at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City. Lia Chang’s photographic works effectively documented the experience of Chinese New Yorkers during and after the 9/11 tragedy. ...

Part 2: China’s Lost Youth through the Lens of Independent Cinema

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Chapter 4. New Chinese Cinema of the "Sixth Generation": A Distant Cry of Forsaken Children

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pp. 91-114

At the 51st Berlin International Film Festival held in February 2001, a Chinese film, Beijing Bicycle, won a Jury Grand Prix of Silver Bear. In a large sense, the story of Beijing Bicycle is a contemporary Chinese variation on the Italian neorealist classic The Bicycle Thief. ...

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Chapter 5. Behind Chinese Walls: The Uncanny Power of Matriarchy in Wang Chao’s Anyang Orphan

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pp. 115-128

In recent years, filmmakers of the Sixth Generation have attracted increasing attention from both Chinese and Western film critics and cultural theorists. Anyang Orphan (2001) is a critically acclaimed film directed by Wang Chao, one of the Sixth Generation Chinese filmmakers whose works portray the turbulence of human life under China’s new capitalistic market economy. ...

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Chapter 6. The Imagery of Postsocialist Trauma in Peacock, Shanghai Dreams, and Stolen Life

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pp. 129-144

In early 2005, three Chinese films received top prizes at various international film festivals: Gu Changwei’s Peacock, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Shanghai Dreams, and LiShaohong’s Stolen Life. All these award-winning films portray a family drama set in the early post-Mao era, or, as it were, at the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). ...

Part 3: In Quest of Meaning in a Spiritual Void: Film and Video

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Chapter 7. Jia Zhangke’s Cinematic Trilogy: A Journey across the Ruins of Post-Mao China

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pp. 147-164

By 2000 Jia Zhangke had created three major films of the new Chinese Sixth Generation, including Xiao Shan Going Home (1995), Xiao Wu (1997), and Platform (2000).1 In these three works, Jia Zhangke conscientiously explores one man’s journey across a ruinous post-Mao China.2 ...

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Chapter 8. The Video Works of Yang Fudong: An Ultimate Escape from a Global Nightmare

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pp. 165-185

On a rainy day in mid-October 2004, I flew from New York to London to visit a new exhibition of contemporary art held at Tate Modern. The show was titled Time Zone: Recent Film and Video and featured ten artists from various countries such as Albania, Belgium, Germany, China, Indonesia, Israel, the Netherlands, and the former Yugoslavia. ...

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Chapter 9. Ning Hao’s Incense: A Curious Tale of Earthly Buddhism

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pp. 186-204

In the summer of 2006, Crazy Stone, a low-budget black comedy directed by Ning Hao, was an enormous success in China’s domestic movie market and “an unlikely mainland hit” that “even brushed aside” Hollywood blockbusters such as Superman Returns and Mission: Impossible III.1 ...

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Postlude: Chinese Artists and Filmmakers at the Beginning of a New Century

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pp. 205-236

Ever since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the country’s rapid economic growth has made many Westerners wonder if China will pose a new challenge or even a threat to Western powers, especially the United States.1 In the summer of 2005, Newsweek and Time, two reputable American magazines, each published a special report on China, ...


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pp. 237-286

Chinese Glossary of Names, Titles, and Terms

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pp. 287-290


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pp. 291-292


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pp. 293-306


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pp. 307-312

About the Author, Production Notes, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780824837631
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824833367

Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Critical Interventions