Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Books: Stairway to Heaven. From Chinese Streets to Monuments and Skyscrapers

Another Interesting book on contemporary chinese art , among some photography, here a note from the publisher:
Stairway to Heaven.,From Chinese Streets to Monuments and Skyscrapers
Publisher's Description
Stairway to Heaven explores contemporary urban space through over fifty photographs and a video installation that analyze, within the context of cultural transformation, the changing streets of China, responses to traditional monuments, and the unparalleled growth in skyscrapers. Because China will be the focus of international attention during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Stairway to Heaven offers a unique opportunity and context within which to present the great resurgence of art and culture in China to a larger audience. Today, Chinese culture bridges a range of emotions and conditions that are both complementary and contradictory, providing new generations with obstacles and opportunities involving wealth, poverty, alienation, competition, and confusion. Unlike the clarity of propaganda surrounding the Olympics, these artists provide a less-structured environment that invites challenging questions and provocative insights. The book presents multiple artistic voices, strategies, and techniques as well as a subtext that explores an art world in which artists are digesting and processing an overload of cultural, philosophical, and technological changes. In their accompanying essays, professors Gan Xu and Gu Zheng, both born during the Maoist period, mine the conflict, tragedy, and hypocrisy of mourning and celebrating, which seem to be the common themes among the artists. Mark H. C. Bessire and Raechell Smith frame the project with expert observations about the role of Chinese art and artists, suggesting that the art of this period in China will be recognized for its immense creative output following an incredibly controlled and fallow era of art making under Mao. Who would have thought that after so much isolation Chinese artists would emerge with the energy and creativity to place Chinese art at the forefront of a global art world in less than a generation. The accompanying essays will appear in both English and Chinese.
Photographs by various Chinese photographers including Ai Weiwei, Chen Shaoxiong, Gu Zheng, Hong Lei & Liang Weiping; Mark H. C. Bessire, ed.
University Press of New England, Hanover, 2008. 96 pp., 60 color and black & white illustrations., 9x10".