File(s) under permanent embargo
Reason: This item is currently closed access.
Exhibiting China in London
chapterposted on 16.02.2015, 10:25 by Amy Jane Barnes
[From introductory paragraph] FOR CENTURIES THE WEST has been fascinated with China or, at least, an image of China mediated through exoticised cultural imaginings and fuelled by fantastical semi-mythical accounts. Until the mid-nineteenth century and the advent of the popular press, the material products of China – silk and later, porcelain and tea – or those manufactured in Europe in the ‘Chinese style’, remained the main means by which the vast majority of Europeans could conceive of China. Indeed, porcelain became so synonymous with its country of origin, that in the West it came to be known simply as ‘china’; a term now applied as a generic descriptor for all types of ceramic, from within and without China, but which nevertheless ascribes an aura of rarity, value and status. Exotic and evocative, and produced by unknown and thus seemingly magical technologies, these products, enthusiastically consumed by fashionable Europeans, came to symbolise an imagined China and sparked successive phases of imagineering, alternating between fascination, ambivalence and distrust.