Overseas Exhibitionary Events as the Dictator of Contemporary Chinese Architecture: “TU MU: Young Architecture of China” in a World Media System
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Focusing on the first European exhibition staging independent Chinese architects “TU MU: Young Architecture of China”, I investigate the process in which overseas architectural exhibitions instigated the recognition of the neglected, marginalized, and suppressed independent Chinese architects, both at home and abroad. Curated by the Europeans, the exhibition appropriated the peripheral Chinese practices into the discourse of world contemporary architecture, established the architects’ advantaged position in the design market and academic institutions, and ultimately empowered the creative class, instead of the state-owned institutes, to represent China on the world platform. In this research, architectural production is approached as a mediated culture phenomenon rather than the construction of physical buildings in a local setting. I first analyze the distinctive media systems in China and Germany as the prerequisites of the exhibition; I then identify the empowered and disempowered institutions, entities and individuals in the constructed narrative. Positing Chinese participants as voiceless object, I conclude the paper by problematizing the consolidated discourse in terms of subjectivity, identity and authorship, and evaluate its broader impact on the younger generations in China’s architectural circle today.