Television shows about art collection, after the manner of Antique Roadshow in the U.S. and U.K., have become all the rage in China since 2006. But after a deluge of such shows during the recent Spring Festival, some experts attacked them as the latest example of media commercialization gone bad, according to the Beijing Evening News. [BELOW: Screenshot of a Beijing-based Website for collectors].


As the market for arts and antiques takes off in China, more and more regional television stations are following the lead of such shows as China Central Television’s Sai Bao Da Hui, which reportedly drew an audience of more than 10 million last year.
According to a report in Beijing Evening News, a spinoff of the official Beijing Daily, such programs were a popular “must see” over the recent holiday in China. But a number of collection experts, cited in the Beijing Evening News report only by their professions, said many of these programs were becoming too sensational, seeking out or manufacturing extreme scenes to draw larger audiences.
One expert, referred to as “the boss of a large auction firm in Beijing”, told the Beijing Evening News [“angrily”]: “People will often come to us carrying their so-called treasures and certificates of authenticity issued by some television station, and say the expert at the TV station looked at it and said it was worth this or that much money, would we please auction it off for them on the basis of this price. But when our experts look at the objects, they find they are not worth the amounts listed, and some are even fakes.”
Another expert, a “well-known expert appraiser of art objects”, said: “A prominent television station invited me to appear on their collecting program as a special guest, but before I went they said to me that when I made appraisals I had to say it was worth 110,000 yuan. I looked at the things, worth 30 thousand or 50 thousand, and I refused. After that, they didn’t seek me out again”.
According to the Beijing Evening News report, “more and more” art collection shows in China are departing from rigorous appraisal and sharing of knowledge about arts and antiques in the bottom-line pursuit of audiences. They seek to manufacture a sense of suprise and awe at the value of objects in the possession of ordinary people.
However, another expert who had reportedly participated in the filming of an art collection program told the newspaper that actors were used to pose as ordinary collectors, and that interactions with “experts” were already scripted by producers.
Another commonly-used tactic in art collection programs, said the newspaper, is the live destruction of “fake” art products. Experts pointed out, though, that Chinese art objects have been counterfeited for centuries, and some “fakes” may themselves have cultural value.
Art Collection Shows Surging Ahead at Regional Television Stations“, Wen Hui Bao via Jiangxi Broadcasting Bureau, July 14, 2006 [Chinese]
[Posted by David Bandurski, February 23, 2007, 11:15am]

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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