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This content is taken from the City University of Hong Kong's online course, Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsWelcome to this course. My name is Zheng Bo. I teach at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. I have been conducting research on Chinese socially engaged art for more than 10 years. I'm excited to have this opportunity to share my discoveries with you. There have been tremendous changes in China over the past several decades. I was born in the 1970s. When I was growing up, most of us lived on less than a dollar a day. There was no such thing as "shopping." And there were no private companies. Everything was managed by the state. Today, China is the world's second largest economy, and continues to expand at a fast pace. Private enterprises thrive.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsMany of us live a materially comfortable life.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsOver the past few decades, art has also changed significantly. Artists today use a wide range of mediums, including sound, video, performance, digital media, and so on. And as the Chinese society changes and new phenomena emerge, artists also have new subject matters to work with.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsIn this course we will look at a number of art projects that address important social issues, including the environment, equality, and the commons. We will study how they integrate aesthetic concerns with social concerns. China is massive. In this course, we won't be able to discuss every socially engaged artwork created in China over the past few decades. Instead, we will dive deep into a number of projects that are substantial and representative of this exciting field.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 secondsThe focus of this course is not only on why the artists initiated these projects, but also on how they developed their ideas, overcame challenges, and pushed artistic boundaries. In addition to attending my lectures, you will watch artist interviews, study visual materials, and participate in discussions. At the end of this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of contemporary China and contemporary art. I hope you will also be inspired to create your own socially engaged art, to address something that matters to you in your community.

Welcome to this course

Welcome and we hope you will have a very productive time with us over the next six weeks! Please read this short text and then watch the video above.


This course is created by Dr. Bo ZHENG, a leading expert on Chinese socially engaged art. The mentor, Sarah will provide additional support.

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Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China

City University of Hong Kong