Globalization’s new arbiters of taste

The New Yorker’s Peter Hessler visits Lishui, a factory art town in China and mass producer of cheap oil paintings for foreign markets.

Chen and Hu could rarely identify the foreign scenes they painted, but they had acquired some ideas about national art tastes from their commissions.

“Americans prefer brighter pictures,” Hu told me. “They like scenes to be lighter. Russians like bright colors too. Koreans like them to be more subdued, and Germans like things that are grayer. The French like that, too.”

Chen flipped to HF-3075: a snow-covered house with glowing lights. “Chinese people like this kind of picture,” she said. “Ugly!”… “Chinese people have no taste. French people have the best taste, followed by Russians, and then the other Europeans.”… “Americans are after that.”

Later in the article:

The Lishui experience seemed to contradict one of the supposed benefits of globalization: the notion that economic exchanges naturally lead to greater understanding. But Lishui also contradicted the critics who believe that globalized links are disorienting and damaging to the workers at the far end of the chain.

It’s an interesting point, although I think it’s a little too early to say.

I’m reminded instead of Mardi Gras: Made In China, a documentary that gets the reaction of Mardi Gras celebrants in New Orleans to videos and interviews with the Chinese women who make the Mardi Gras beads.

The most memorable part: they show videos of the Mardi Gras folks to the workers. Exposing mammary glands: not exactly what the women expected