“M+ Matters: Post-1949 Visual and Material Culture in China” is a public talk tackling critical issues in the first decades of the socialist state in China through a multidisciplinary lens, examining design and visual art. Bringing together three international scholars and curators, it aims to propose new ways of appraising the highly complex narratives of socialist cultural production in China, which have often been overlooked by historians.
Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese state devised visual and material strategies to achieve its particular conception of socialist modernity. The talk builds on pioneering studies that contextualise and re-examine the manifestations of this modernity—often positioned as alternative or oppositional—across geographies, time, and disciplines within China’s shifting socio-economic and political frameworks.
The talk consists of three presentations:
‘Everyday Desirables: What Wristwatches, Sewing Machines, and Bicycles Can Tell Us about Mao-Era China’
Karl Gerth (Hwei-Chih and Julia Hsiu Endowed Chair in Chinese Studies and Professor of History, Department of History, University of California, San Diego)
‘New China’s Showcase: The China Pavilion at the Leipzig Fairs in East Germany’
Jennifer Altehenger (Lecturer in Contemporary Chinese History, Department of History, King’s College London)
‘Crossing the Pacific: A Hidden History’
Zheng Shengtian (Adjunct Director, Institute of Asian Art, Vancouver Art Gallery)