A.C. Baecker is a doctoral candidate in the department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation explores concepts and cultures of labour during the Maoist period, focussing on forms of labour not traditionally recognised as productive. She holds a master's degree in modern Chinese literature from Tsinghua University and a bachelor's degree in comparative literature from UC Berkeley. She has published widely on contemporary art.

Amateur Art Practice and the Everyday in Socialist China

This essay examines amateur art practice during the socialist period in China. It argues that socialist amateur art practice not only changed the class and labour relations that had previously defined the fine arts, but also converted the expert and professional cultures of the fine arts into a grassroots practice of the everyday. Originating from small art study groups at industrial and agricultural sites, amateur artists met to create images depicting their labour and lifestyles. The result was a practice that challenged the art academy as a legitimising site of training, evacuated concepts of artistic genius and technical accomplishment, and embraced media primarily oriented toward the public, as opposed to the market.

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