‘Back to Contemporary: One Contemporary Ambition, Many Worlds’ by Carol Yinghua Lu (2009)


“[Hans] Belting, who back in 1983 proposed the end of art history and the end of art’s historical narrative, has again stressed in this context that the German perspective is a local one, and that Western art history is a time-based and culture-specific concept whose sensitivity and relevance to other periods of time and cultures should always be re-examined. A workshop he led on global art at the ZKM this past summer proposed a paradigm shift; we were reminded to no longer think about the West as the singular model to be applied worldwide, but to reflect on how to expand this model using experiences from elsewhere, or even to approach art from the perspective of a multitude of models.”

“Cultural specificity shouldn’t be a defining trait of one’s existence and thinking; it can however be valuable when placed in an international context to be scrutinized and renewed, in constant interaction and dialogue with an external cultural sphere.”

“What Fei Dawei argued almost two decades ago is unfortunately still a valid premise and goal for those of us working in China: how do we examine and activate our own cultural conditions and contexts in a global discourse, rather than emphasize our own uniqueness and become burdened by it? It’s not international attention that will release us, but our self-discipline and critical engagement with our own practices and ideas that will possibly make us active participants in the global art scene, artists who do not lose sight of the rest of the world. Maybe it’s less relevant to ask what is “Chinese art” than to think about what is contemporary in our own particular context and how it relates to the larger context of the world.”

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