Power Institute - The University of Sydney

Displaying Reform: Exhibitionary Architecture and the Early Reform Era in the People's Republic of China

We can think of design as an inherently anticipatory process. This lecture explores how a history of exhibitionary architecture that starts in the 1970s in China and abroad contributed to the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to reposition itself relative to the world at large. Cole Roskam is the fourth and final Sydney Asian Art Series speaker for 2019. 


Beginning in the early 1970s, and in the immediate wake of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to reassess the role played by museums, political edifices, and sites of memory in socialist China and perceptions of China and its history abroad. The act of architectural design was formative to these efforts. As an inherently anticipatory process, design was expected to imagine the new spaces, experiences, and narrative structures necessary to rehabilitate various forms of Chinese cultural production both at home and abroad. As a specific form of spatial intervention, design’s facilitation of the international circulation of objects also aided China’s reintegration within broader global diplomatic and economic spheres of influence. A reexamination of exhibitions and their designs in relation to late and post-Mao China thus prompts new considerations, not only with respect to how objects in China were organized, mobilized, and exhibited by the state, but with respect to how architectural design aided in China’s efforts to reposition itself relative to the world at large.


Cole Roskam is associate professor of architectural history in the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. His research examines architecture’s role in mediating moments of transnational interaction and exchange between China and other parts of the world. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in art and architectural history from Harvard University.


6pm, Wednesday 18 September 2019

Law School Foyer

University of Sydney Law School

Eastern Avenue

NSW 2006

Any questions can be sent to powerinstitute.events@sydney.edu.au

Event starts
Wednesday 18 September, 2019
Event Ends
Wednesday 18 September, 2019
Law School Foyer
Venue Address
University of Sydney Law School

Sydney, ,

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