The economical and political rise of China is one of the most obvious and important developments after the end of the Cold War. The West before 1989 had not competed with China—it is the contemporary West that does. However, the cultural dimension of the relationship between China and the West remains mostly overlooked: China is regarded in the West almost exclusively from economic or political perspectives. Now, Qiu Zhijie
is one of the most interesting figures on the Chinese artistic and, more generally, cultural scene. His art is deeply rooted in the old Chinese tradition of calligraphy. But at the same time Qiu works to open up the Chinese public to contemporary international art. He was the artistic director of the 9th Shanghai Biennale in 2012, arguably the most comprehensive presentation of international contemporary art on Chinese soil. Qiu describes his artistic project as a search for “total art.” Total art means here of course not totalitarian art but an attempt to integrate western phenomena like the French Enlightenment, Romanticism, Dada, or Fluxus into the broader map of Chinese cultural modernity. Thus, total art is not merely a totally inclusive art but an art that tries to overcome the cultural divisions from the time of the Cold War. In conversation with Qiu, Boris Groys
discusses this project and its implications for Chinese and western contemporary cultures.