Consuming Revolution: The Museum and the Gallery in Post-Socialist Beijing
In 2011, a massive renovation of the exhibit on modern Chinese history housed at the National Museum on Tiananmen Square was completed. This permanent exhibit, "Road to Rejuvenation," presents the most authoritative official view of the decades of revolution led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the very political party that still governs China today. The first part of this talk explores the history of the exhibit and its treatment of the most controver- sial episodes in mass politics led by the CCP during the revolutionary years-the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In the second part of the talk, a contrast is drawn between the "Road to Rejuvenation" and two long-term artists' projects in Beijing, launched by the artists' gallery called Long March Space, that also consider the legacies of China's revolutionary era. The contrasts between public and private consumption of revolution are thus explored, in an effort to understand not only how an instrumental historical narrative first crafted during the socialist era is being reshaped, but also how collective memory of revolution operates through hegemonic negotiation over cultural expression in the post-socialist present.