It's Culture Time!
by Henrietta Wang
Thanks to the success of Sino-French, -Russian, -Italian etc. Culture Year, some enterprising enthusiasts of Chinese art and literature have come up with an ingenious plan - next year is Sino-Chinese Culture Year!
"Most Chinese people have no idea about Chinese culture," explains project leader Wang Shaobing. "Ask them about China and they'll mutter something about '5000 years of history' and great inventions, but that's all they know. And 5000 years? Where do they get that from? By those standards, France has 8000 years of history! So what? Next thing they'll be claiming you can see the Great Wall from space or something."
Sino-Chinese Culture Year will introduce Chinese people to China's rich heritage, from literature to film, from society to fine art. "As far as the average Chinese person is concerned," explains Wang, "Chinese art is all about reproduction prints featuring tigers and shrimp. Also calligraphy. We want to show them there's more to China than that. For example, there are hundreds of young contemporary artists working on the theme of bald women wearing People's Liberation Army uniforms. But for every one of them, there are at least two with a creative bone in their bodies."
Above: some heritage.
Events will take place in cities throughout China, including exhibitions, dance shows and the Literature Expo, which features an overview of great Chinese literature (and for the under-10s, an interactive exhibition all about Jinpingmei!).
It's not been easy for everyone involved though. We spoke to Chengdu regional co-ordinator Wang Yiwei. "I wish Sichuan had more to offer than pandas," she said, "but I suppose you just have to work with what you have. That's why we're adopting a single-pronged approach of sending as many pandas to as many cities as we can, as rapidly as possible."
The Sino-Chinese Culture Year opening ceremony will take place next March in Nanjing, where things will be kicked off by an all-female ensemble performing music that doesn't completely suck.