Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space
Wu Hung grew up in Beijing and experienced much of the city's makeover firsthand. In this lavishly illustrated work, he offers a vivid, often personal account of the struggle over Beijing's reinvention, drawing particular attention to Tiananmen Square—the most sacred space in the People's Republic of China. Remaking Beijing considers the square's transformation from a restricted imperial domain into a public arena for political expression, from an epic symbol of socialism into a holy relic of the Maoist regime, and from an official and monumental complex into a site for unofficial and antigovernment demonstrations.
Wu Hung also explores how Tiananmen Square has become a touchstone for official art in modern China—as the site for Mao's monumental portrait, as the location of museums narrating revolutionary history, and as the grounds for extravagant National Day parades celebrating the revolutionary masses. He then shows how in recent years the square has inspired artists working without state sponsorship to create paintings, photographs, and even performances that reflect the spirit of the 1989 uprisings and pose a forceful challenge to official artworks and the sociopolitical system that supports them.
Remaking Beijing will reward anyone interested in modern Chinese history, society, and art, or, more generally, in how urban renewal becomes intertwined with cultural and national politics.
"Wu Hung sensitively intertwines his learned analysis with a personal account of how Tananmen influenced him and his family. He explains how the Communists decided to turn the area in front of the Forbidden City from a relatively private space into an overpowering public one."
1. Tiananmen Square: A Political History of Monuments
2. Face of Authority: Tiananmen and Mao's Tiananmen Portrait
3. Displaying the People: National Day Parades and Exhibition Architecture
4. Monumentality of Time: From Drum Tower to 'Hong Kong Clock'
5. Art of the Square: From Subject to Site
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