The Arts in Shanghai by Justin Smith-Hoopes
A nation predicted to economically surpass the current most powerful country, China is often recognized by is large cities and strict political structure. A lesser known part of China and more specifically Shanghai is the art scene. TGS students have been exploring bustling marketplaces, fascinating art museums, and the generations of architecture fill the city through guided tours, module sessions and student-led trips.
There are many museums in Shanghai, ranging from transportation museums to contemporary art museums. One of the museums stands out is the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center. Owning posters dating back to 1910, the museum showcases propaganda used by the government to promote their political agenda.
The following are quotes from students in the Made in China module.
“It’s a great look into the development of Chinese visual culture,” - Ava Ploeckelman.
“It surprised me how diversity was promoted within the propaganda art,” - Maren Höver.
“When you're there, you can feel what the people in that era felt. You feel a kind of passion, and you don’t know where it comes from, but you get an idea of what people felt when the propaganda arose. If I was surrounded by those arts all the time, I could turn into a communist”. - Souen Kim
Another important aspect of the city culture in China are fake markets. The fake markets are filled with items nearly identical to high-end brands such as Nike and Burberry. After being an asked for a certain price, students have successfully negotiated the price to 1/10th of the original offer. Student’s have visited the markets on their off days, navigating the tightly packed vendors. According to Izzy Ricotta, “It’s an underground maze with a variety of shops containing a multitude of products. It’s fascinating and you get a little bit of an adrenaline rush especially when you’re bargaining”.
The Architecture of Shanghai is radically different throughout the city, marking different time periods and important events. The west of Shanghai houses many different styles of architecture ranging from Italian Renaissance to Moorish design. Some parts of the French concession are even home to a variety of mixed styles, showcasing the ever-changing nature of Shanghai’s architectural forms. Shanghai holds the tallest skyscraper in China, with the highest observation deck in the world.
In the words of student Maxim Sindall, “It’s a beautiful view of history. You can see a sprawling city, built in less than 30 years. It’s a look into the future while also a reminder of the past. “