The cosmopolitan world of Victorian
portraiture: the Crystal Palace portrait
This chapter returns to centre stage the 500 plaster cast portraits, ranging
from Homer to Queen Victoria, comprising the Crystal Palace portrait
gallery, that ran alongside the better-known, more widely discussed Fine
Arts Courts. It considers the portraits as a microcosm of the Palace project, and develops ‘close’ and ‘distant’ readings of Samuel Phillips’s official
1854 guide.1 Countering myopic, insular interpretations of Sydenham as a
curatorial ideal of a contemporary art that is global in itself, which
underpins curatorial practices, particularly in connection with the large international events like biennials (see Chapter 2).
As regards the institutional globalisation, philosopher Noël Carroll has
described this process as the development of ‘a single, integrated, cosmopolitan institution of art, organised transnationally’, i.e. a worldwide institutional
apparatus with an operationally reliable repertoire of themes and meaningproducing curatorial strategies which can be mobilised on any of the world
Mass photography, monarchy and the making of colonial subjects
communications, forged a cosmopolitan or ‘transnational’ sense of community in elite colonial circles.
A rising number of middle-class Europeans as well as a minority of wealthy, Indigenous Indonesians were able to participate in what Dutch historian Ulbe Bosma has referred to as a ‘colonial migration circuit’.
A similar situation has been described for other multi-ethnic, multi-religious European empires in this period.
‘The 10th of June, 1854, promises to be a day scarcely less memorable in the social history of the present age than was the 1st of May, 1851’ boasted the Chronicle on 10 June 1854, comparing the opening of the Crystal Palace, newly installed on the crown of Sydenham Hill, to that of the Great Exhibition. Many contemporary commentators deemed the Sydenham Palace’s contents superior, the building more spectacular and its educative potential much greater than its predecessor. Yet their predictions proved to be a little wide of the mark, and for a long time, studies of the Great Exhibition of 1851 have marginalised the Sydenham Palace. This collection of essays will look beyond the chronological confines of 1851 and address the significance of the Crystal Palace as a cultural site, image and structure well into the twentieth century, even after it was destroyed by fire in 1936.
Grand Hyatt Hotel. Featured in popular films such as James Bond’s Skyfall (2012), the Jin Mao Tower, along with the
Lujiazui skyline, has become a worldwide signifier of Shanghai’s cosmopolitan
status and financial prowess.8 Rather than merely emulate the skyscrapers of
Chicago, New York, and Tokyo, the Jin Mao Tower is known for integrating
specifically Chinese design elements, such as a pagoda-like setback design,
eighty-eight floors (eight being an auspicious number in traditional Chinese
culture), and proportions that revolve around the number eight.9 Like the
From the ruins of heaven on earth
New dreams for old Shanghai
In the early 1990s, Hong Kong-based development firm Shui On Land, one of
the first overseas companies to enter mainland China, began devising a construction project that would radically transform a neighborhood in Shanghai’s
former French Concession into the city’s leading commercial and residential zone. Today, the neighborhood houses Xintiandi, a shopping complex
said to epitomize cosmopolitan Shanghai. Promising consumers a fuller life
enriched by luxury goods, art, cultural heritage
’ house with a unique fusion of east meets west,” Shanghai Tang combines details of traditional Chinese clothing with “imperial tailoring skills,”
old Shanghai style, and contemporary cosmopolitan fashions.3 In Shanghai
Tang, like at Xintiandi, pastiche tends to cover over present-day socioeconomic tensions, such as those arising from the reestablishment of class divisions, vying conceptions of local and global identities, and anxieties about
Shanghai overtaking Hong Kong as the region’s primary economic powerhouse. This chapter analyzes Shanghai Tang’s hybrid imagery
Shanghai, long known as mainland China’s most cosmopolitan metropolis, has recently re-emerged as a global capital. Above sea: Contemporary art, urban culture, and the fashioning of global Shanghai offers the first in-depth examination of turn of the twenty-first-century Shanghai-based art and design—from state-sponsored exhibitions to fashionable cultural complexes to cutting-edge films and installations. This book offers a counter-touristic view of one of the world’s fastest developing megacities, one that penetrates the contradictions and buried layers of specific locales and artifacts of visual culture. Informed by years of in-situ research, including interviews with artists and designers, the book looks beyond contemporary art’s global hype to reveal persistent socio-political tensions accompanying Shanghai’s explosive transitions from semi-colonial capitalism to Maoist socialism to Communist Party–sponsored capitalism. Analyses of exemplary design projects such as Xintiandi and Shanghai Tang and artworks by Liu Jianhua, Yang Fudong, Gu Wenda, and others reveal how Shanghai’s global aesthetics construct glamorizing artifices that mask historically rooted cross-cultural conflicts between vying notions of foreign-influenced modernity versus anti-colonialist nationalism, and the city’s repressed socialist past versus its consumerist present. The book focuses on Shanghai-based art and design from the 1990s–2000s, the decades of the city’s most rapid post-socialist development, while also attending to pivotal Republican and Mao-era examples. Challenging the “East-meets-West” clichés that characterize discussions of urban Shanghai and contemporary Chinese art, this book illuminates critical issues facing today’s artists, architects, and designers and provides an essential field guide for students of art, design, art history, urban studies, and Chinese culture.
‘singular’ root; and thereby
diminishing the significance and value of such endeavours. This is certainly
not my aim here, either: to do so would constitute a failure that is neither
productive nor queer. Indeed, while Glissant challenges the notion of a totalitarian root, he does not give up on rootedness – just one borne through
chaotic relations (broadly construed).
Expanding on Sheller’s point, art historian Marsha Meskimmon describes
how an artwork might engender an achieved indigeneity as the ‘very possibility of a cosmopolitan imagination
pluralistic dreams, realities, promises, and fissures of the PRC’s radically
altering landscapes amid globalization.
The photographs were shot all over mainland China—from the cosmopolitan capitals of Beijing and Shanghai to towns in the rural countryside in Henan
Province, from ethnic minority villages in Yunnan and autonomous regions,
such as Xinjiang, to fast-developing interior municipalities, like Chongqing.
Taken from very personal, individual points of view and representing a wide
variety of scenes, locales, people, and customs, these photographs unraveled