The art of persuasion: critiquing China's new middle class by multi-perspective storytelling mode
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] My work is a critique of China's New Middle Class's tasteless manners. The New Middle Class in China have attempted to use "good taste" as a means of distinguishing themselves from the masses. However, that 'good taste' has been usually associated with certain status symbols, in particular famous Western brands and popular leisure activities. China's New Middle Class would blindly mimic things from the West in order to present themselves as members of the middle class. Meanwhile, they would pay no attention to the deeper, spiritual aspects of our traditional Chinese culture. They would parade our own traditional culture, wear traditional garments, and stage cultural festivities only for purposes of entertaining and pleasing Western eyes, and no more. And, in doing so, the New Middle Class would devalue the very cultural richness they purport to convey. To enhance this shallow, hasty and boastful mental state of China's New Middle Class, I emphasize the distorted relationship between the activity and its participant: the participant's extraordinary feelings of satisfaction and excitement are caused not by the activity itself but by the external meaning associated with that activity -- the status that this perceived middle class activity provides them. In addition, I enhance color contrasts, especially saturation, to make the elements in my paintings look cheap, unclassified, and mismatched. However, the artistic strategy of my work departs from previous artwork that only satirizes China's New Middle Class through the exaggeration of kitschy features. I attempt to cross the boundaries of different cultures, and avoid using simple dichotomies that would merely provide easy solutions. The judgments and values of the West and East, China's working class, middle class, and intellectuals are starkly different. In my works, I do not reject their impressions. Instead, I provide a forum of debate for those who seek to judge the tastes and manners of China's New Middle Class. My artwork's intention is to bring about self-awareness among China's New Middle Class. I try to tactfully remind them that the cultivation and creation of any culture is long-term project; they should pay attention to a culture's inner spirit instead of mindlessly assuming it and no more.
Access is limited to the campuses of the University of Missouri.