Call for Papers: Making the New World – The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution

London, UK
11 – 12th Nov 2016
Deadline: 1st Feb 2016


Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, Making the New World: the Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution, is a two-day international conference programmed by the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery.

Inviting researchers, artists, designers, curators and practitioners at all stages of their careers worldwide to reassess the significance of the arts and culture of the Cultural Revolution, the 9th CCVA Annual Conference reflects upon their impacts on everyday life in China within socio-political, cultural and global contexts.

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design, media and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies.


In the summer of 1966, Mao’s Cultural Revolution reached its climax across the country in the pursuit of ‘a new world’ freed from the ‘Four Olds’ – ‘old ideas, culture, customs and old habits of the exploiting classes’. This period has often been referred to as a ‘cultural desert’ and has been absent from Chinese art history. However, the Chinese Cultural Revolution has produced some of the most significant cultural products of the twentieth century China. It has covered all fields of creative practice – from public sculpture to painting and performance; from calligraphy to printmaking; from ceramics to fashion and textiles; from furniture and product design to architecture.

Today, when revisiting the Cultural Revolution half of a century later, what kind of new aesthetics, ideologies and culture have been shaped through the visual, audio, performative and immersive experiences of that time? What were the relationships between artists and audiences, between makers, disseminators and participants? Finally, what are the cultural impacts of the arts of the Cultural Revolution on contemporary art, design and creative practices, as well as on everyday experience within and beyond China?

We encourage papers from a variety of subject areas and interdisciplinary perspectives to develop new understandings of the Cultural Revolution beyond conventional studies for example, on revolutionary aesthetics. The following set of ten ‘relationships’ is seen indicative, but not limited to the discussions around the arts of the Cultural Revolution:

    Art, culture and politics
    Art, mass art and non-art
    Amateur and professional: artists, participants and audiences
    Art production, dissemination and reception
    Collective and private spaces: squares, streets and buildings
    The conformity and the rebellions: uniforms and the body
    Mass assemblies and parades: performative and immersive experiences
    Model operas, musicals and everyday life
    Songs, voices and the spirit
    Written words and images

Submit Proposals

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words, a 100-word biography, contact information and any institutional affiliations, by 1 February 2016 via

Any general queries should also be directed to

Conference presentations should last no more than 20 minutes. Successful proposals for conference contribution will be announced by March 2016. Invited full papers should be completed by 20 December 2016 and to be featured in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) as a special issue in 2017.



Whitechapel Gallery, London

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