A visual dossier on China and the human cannot just focus on recognizable human figures like the dissident, the human rights activist, or the victims of state violence, important as these figures are. There are also emergent figures that the new China is producing out of the contradictions of the socialist market economy (even the description is an oxymoron) that are not as yet clearly recognizable. These figures of the human do not appear necessarily as human figures. They are not so much representations of new social types as they are hysterical symptoms of a new society: like hysterical symptoms, their relation to what produced them may seem arbitrary and obscure. Yet it is the inchoate and incomplete articulations of these figures of the human in new Chinese artworks (paintings, installations, films, performances, and so on) that will challenge, extend, and throw into doubt fixed notions of the human.
Ackbar Abbas; China and the Human: A Visual Dossier. Social Text 1 March 2012; 30 (1 (110)): 91–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1468335
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