Cultural Capital – Guardian Unlimited

From Guardian Unlimited (link):

The theme of this year’s Dashanzi contemporary festival is Beijing, but it might just as easily be money.

Cash is used for political ends by veteran artist, Huang Rui, whose “Chairman Mao 10,000rmb” spells out Cultural Revolution slogans with banknotes. The same material is exploited by young artist Wang Sishun, who has cut and folded a giant 100rmb note into the shape of a vagina. “Before you couldn’t buy anything in China. Money was useless,” he explains. “But now it can buy anything, even sex.”

It’s a case of art imitating life. Reflecting what is happening to the Chinese economy as a whole, a flood of (mostly foreign) cash is pumping up prices and turning the poor, struggling artists of old into wealthy investors in their own works. Visitors used to come to to gawp at the weird and wonderful creations on display; now they are just as likely to be considering an investment in one of the fastest growing asset markets in the country.

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