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'China Design Now'

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Bernadette Buckley


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This article draws from cultural studies, political theory, international relations, art history and museum studies in order to consider 'China Design Now' - the blockbuster exhibition, recently held at the V&A. It argues that, despite the inclusion of a number of interesting exhibits, the attempt to frame contemporary Chinese design independently of political contextualization has led to an exhibition which is largely unsatisfying. The approach taken by the V&A is further shown to have produced several ironic outcomes. First, by attempting to avoid 'contentious' political issues, the museum has, in fact, forced the 'political' to the fore. Second, by taking such an approach, the V&A demonstrates that it has failed to understand the essentially political nature of the design problem. Third, it has produced an exhibition which appears to advocate a (highly political) neoliberal agenda-one which insists on an inexorable drive towards greater global economic integration. Finally, it has failed to mention its own embeddedness within larger strategies of ` cultural diplomacy' and the significance of such strategies for international relations and for cultural production. As well as drawing on a range of relevant literature, the article makes direct reference to exhibition wall texts, exhibit labels and quotations from the catalogue in order to support its argument.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Buckley B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theory, Culture & Society

Year: 2008

Volume: 25

Issue: 7-8

Pages: 341-352

ISSN (print): 0263-2764

ISSN (electronic): 1460-3616

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0263276408097811


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