My research is concerned with the history and present of artistic authorship, with a focus on interactions between China and the West. My theoretical interests revolve around the critical distinctions of high and low, true and fake, art and commodity, originality and imitation, and, conceptual and manual labor, and thus my work focuses on objects and practices at the boundary of these categories. My first book, Van Gogh On Demand: China and the Readymade (UChicago Press 2014, Joseph Levenson Book Prize 2015), is a study of Dafen village, China, the world's largest production center for oil-on-canvas painting. The book examines conceptual art, propaganda, skill, craft and performance in Dafen, and evaluates the postmodern valorization of creativity and appropriation in globalist artistic discourses.
I recently coedited with Mary Ann O’Donnell and Jonathan Bach, a multidisciplinary volume on the urban history and anthropology of Shenzhen, entitled Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (UChicago Press December 2016).