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Art: Visual Studies Forum, Briggs Theatre
October 20, 2014 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Alfreda Murck, Independent Scholar
“In summer of 1968 China’s “Cultural Revolution” had spun out of control. Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong reluctantly agreed to use the military to suppress student Red Guards. Just then, a Pakistani foreign minister presented a crate of mangoes that Mao re-gifted to factory workers who had recently quelled violent Red Guards on the campus of Tsinghua University. The mangoes were promoted in a propaganda campaign that marked a shift in the leadership of the Cultural Revolution from red guards to the People’s Liberation Army under the guise of the working class. Alfreda Murck will describe the improbable transformation of the mango from then unknown fruit to a symbol of Mao’s love for his people and the workers.
A historian of Chinese visual culture, Alfreda Murck last year relocated to New York after living seventeen years in Beijing. In China, she was a consultant to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and a researcher at their Painting and Calligraphy Research Center. She taught graduate students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Peking University. Major exhibitions to which she contributed include The Three Emperors, 1662-1795 at the Royal Academy, London, Eccentric Visions: The Worlds of Luo Ping (1733-1799) at the Museum Reitberg, Zurich, and the Metropolitan Museum; and Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution, also at The Museum Rietberg. This fall “Mao’s Golden Mangoes” is being shown at The China Institute, New York. She authored Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent (Harvard, 2000). She has published numerous articles in English and Chinese on China’s visual arts and poetry. In Beijing Alfreda formed a collection of 20th century vernacular Chinese teapots now in the British Museum and a collection of printed cotton quilt covers dating from 1959 to the early 1980s now in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. Prior to living in Asia, Alfreda was Associate Curator of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum. She received her PhD from Princeton University.”