Some time ago, I received a message through my website contact form that was headed “Looking for Possibility to Translate Your Book into Chinese.” Needless to say, I was delighted.
After introducing himself as Chen Guang Wang, a Chinese émigré in his third year as a student of Visual Art at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, the writer explained:
Art has been my lifelong endeavor, yet I have always wondered why I could not understand most Contemporary Art. About a year ago, I Googled “why I can’t understand conceptual art” and found Aristos, with your article “Understanding Contemporary Art.” I also learned of your book Who Says That’s Art?. I was thrilled to see that someone has been dedicated to this issue for decades, and that your writing is very solid.
Observing that art in China is in the same confused condition as here and that people are “thirsty” for anything new from the West, he added that “after 100 years, we might be . . . at a turning point,” with a return to representational work. In such a climate, he suggested, there should be interest in a Chinese edition of Who Says That’s Art?.
In a subsequent message, Chen Guang wrote that he was eager to translate the book because “most people are perplexed by ‘conceptual art,’ ‘readymades’ and ‘abstract art.'” In his view, my “strong argument” against such work “definitely needs to be spread.”
Given the extensive work required to translate the entire book and publish a Chinese edition, however, we agreed that it would be prudent to explore the potential interest for such an edition. A sample chapter—Chen Guang’s translation of the book’s Introduction into Simplified Chinese—is therefore published here. Chinese readers interested in seeing more should contact the translator.