American Born Chinese

Creating Between Cultural Dichotomies—Cai Guo Qiang, Interpreter of East-West Dialogues College

In the past few decades, an expanding market economy and increased interaction with the global world has led to new generations of contemporary Chinese artists working on the global stage. While some have taken on a critical view of the cultural milieu of this new globalization—calling it a “transnational dominance based on an ideology of consumerism” (Daftari 2)—others have considered it a blessing, for when the nation opened its borders to western influence, it revitalized a staling traditional local art. Yet, despite more cross-cultural communication, numerous Chinese artists continued to find the national atmosphere limiting—by the 1980s, many left the country in search of more artistic freedom and inspiration from the western sphere. Amongst these displaced artists operating outside national borders, Cai Guo Qiang is one who is known to draw heavily from recognizable Chinese element while still communicating with the contemporary front, and has been able to establish considerable prestige both abroad and in China. Like many of his contemporary expatriate artists, such as Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, and Ai Wei Wei, who have made works explicitly referencing ancient Eastern ideas and symbols, Cai Guo Qiang has likewise attracted...

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