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Above SeaContemporary art, urban culture, and the fashioning of global Shanghai$
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Jenny Lin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132604

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526132604.001.0001

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From the ruins of heaven on earth

From the ruins of heaven on earth

(p.26) 1 From the ruins of heaven on earth
Above Sea

Jenny Lin

Manchester University Press

Chapter One examines pastiche in the shopping mall and cultural heritage site Xintiandi, before discussing the site’s buried modern art histories marred by cross-cultural conflicts. Xintiandi physically surrounds China’s first communist meeting site of 1921, today memorialized as a museum. The complex was designed with reference to the vernacular homes of its formerly foreign occupied French Concession setting, and is officially celebrated for its “East-meets-West” and “Old-meets-New” architecture, even while the construction demolished most of the site’s existing homes and dislocated thousands of working class residents. This chapter analyzes how Xintiandi’s seemingly benign East-meets-West façades mask collusions between the Chinese Communist Party’s autocratic state power and capitalist development, while romanticizing Shanghai’s modern cosmopolitan legacy. The chapter analyzes examples of Xintiandi’s repressed cultural histories, including the revolutionary art and design experiments of Pang Xunqin, founder of the 1930s avant-garde collective, The Storm Society, leftist writings and art promoted by Lu Xun, and the major Cultural Revolution Era debate sparked by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1972 documentary, Chung Kuo Cina. The chapter argues that the official admonishment of Shanghai-based cultural projects by Pang and Antonioni speak to collisions between Shanghai’s semi-colonial past, Maoist socialism, and Cultural Revolution Era totalitarianism that still resonate in Shanghai today.

Keywords:   Urban Redevelopment, Pastiche, Chinese Capitalism, Modern Art, Cultural Revolution

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