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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

China in the 1980s China is memorable on many fronts. Among them are the breakout of the new Chinese films (the Fifth Generation) and the surge of avant-garde art movement. While a bold experimental impulse fuels both, how are these two kinds of visual media related? Tracing the trajectory of the evolving media of film and other visual arts, the essay outlines discernible patterns therein. Painting became the model for film in the initial phase, prompted by the post-Mao impulse to break out of the monologic narrative; then, sometime in the mid-1980s, film became the model for avant-gardist art making. While one medium’s appropriation of formal properties from other media is nothing new, it is demonstrated that the distinct cultural dynamics of the 1980s drove re-mediation. Milestone works—such as the film Big Parade (1986) and Xu Bing’s installations—are shown to resonate with each other in unexpected ways.

Keywords: Maple, Luo Zhongli, The Father, Yellow Earth, Black Canon Incident, The Big Parade, Samsara (Lunhui), Zhang Dali, Xu Bing, Book from the Sky

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