In the summer of 2006, Gao Minglu initiated the monographical study and exhibition project of “The No Name Painting Association.” Wang Zhiliang, at the time, worked as an assistant and partook in these projects. In the summer of 2007, Wang Zhiliang then worked again as a scholarly editor, participating in the reediting and reprinting of Chinese Contemporary Art: 1985-1986 led by Mr. Gao Minglu. Only by having participated in the collecting and sorting of the archives of contemporary art directly, the author was allowed to attempt a construction of a historical narrative as such. Besides, the writing of this book was also contextualized by the exhibition, “ ’85 New Wave: the Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art” by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, the following publishing of “’85 New Wave-Archive” book series, as well as the incidents of 20th, 30th anniversary of ’85 New Wave, and the series of oral histories that emerged through out the time. One could say that the ’85 New Wave related writings that were publicly published in the first 10 years of the new millennium construe the foundation for the completion of this book.
This book adopts a post-structural theory of semiotic art history, and discusses the relationship between “discourse” and “movement” in the 80s’ developments of art, especially in narrating the rise and development of “rational discourse,” and how this discourse became intertwined with the entire development of ’85 art movement. The classification and propagation of the 80s art discourses was another weighing point in this piece of literature. The public space constructed by meetings and printings which composed the development of art at this particular time were in a large sense decisive for the general orientation of art developments. In public spaces as such, different discourses presents a sense of uniformity, where the traditional, the modern and the avant-garde are mutually influential, in which construed the basic profile of the uniform discourse of art of the 80s. Among that, “rational discourse,” which span over modernism and the avant-garde, became one of the mainstreaming discourses of that period of art development after 1985.
Besides the specific point of views presented by this book, how do we, as witnesses of contemporary art history, deal with the relationship between oral histories presented by those who have lived through this history, the original archives and the historical narratives? This may be a more relevant question to be discussed as for today. With the publishing of Discourse and Movement—Two Keywords of the History of Art in the 80s, we have invited the associate editor of Arts, Sheng Wei, the curator of Inside-Out Art Museum, Lu Yinghua, and the author of book, Dr. Wang Zhiliang, to talk about contemporary art archives and historical narratives.