`China Design Now'

Buckley, Bernadette. 2008. `China Design Now'. Theory, Culture & Society, 25(7-8), pp. 341-352. ISSN 0263-2764 [Article]

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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.

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1 December 2008Published

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08 Nov 2010 09:18

Last Modified:

25 Jun 2021 10:50

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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