Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

March 14, 2007

Controversy surrounds new exhibition of Tibetan artefacts

Filed under: Censorship, China, Cultural Revolution, Propaganda, Tibet, Weblinks — amyjaneb @ 10:39 pm

Mary Stevens wrote about this exhibition ages ago on her blog – I’m just trying to catch up after my busy week!  Unfortunately (for me) the article she links to is in German, but I’ve used Google’s nifty translation tool (I got a D in GCSE German) and can offer a, slightly dodgy, English translation of the article here.  I’m intrigued by Horst ‘Charcoal Burner!.  😉  Anyway, the basic gist is that this new major exhibition of Tibetan objects from China at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin avoids discussion of the 1959 Chinese ‘liberation’ of Tibet and the resulting destruction of many religious and culturally significant objects following the Dalai Lama’s flight to India.  The Der Spiegel article suggests that it was a Chinese condition for the loan of these objects that any political context was glossed over by the curatorial team.  This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time.  To what extent do the Chinese cultural authorities control the representation of China without its borders?  For example, I would be really interested to find out whether, for example, the V&A and British Museum – who have entered into a cultural exchange programme with Chinese museums (which has lead to the Qin Shihuangdi exhibition at the BM later this year) have had to agree to similar conditions.  I have a strong suspicion that there has, at the very least, been some self-censorship in anticipation of visits by officials from the Chinese Embassy, which is backed up by some anecdotal evidence passed onto me (admittedly second hand).  Of course, this all has implications for how the Cultural Revolution is – or, indeed – if it can ever be sufficiently explored in the museum environment.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] or joint exhibition agreements.  Indeed reports at the time accused China of trying to censor the Museum für Asiatische Kunst’s recent exhibition of Tibetan artefacts.  I’ll be visiting the V&A’s China Design Now in May.  It will be interesting to […]

    Pingback by The rights and wrongs of contemporary Sinophilia « Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China — April 15, 2008 @ 10:04 am


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