Despite art’s potential to create a conceptual space for freedom, community, and dialogue, the convergence of contemporary art narratives and transnational politicking remains in an increasingly utilitarian space. After posing a historical survey of Chinese cultural policy and the fluctuating relationship between contemporary art practice and the Party-state, this issue’s cover package goes on to offer first-hand accounts of seminal moments from those histories: Meredith Palmer reflects on the first major introduction of modern American art in China in 1981, Geremie Barmé tosses a “literary hand-grenade” at the elitist cultural phenomenon that were the “foreign salons” in Beijing of the mid to late 1980s, and Xing Danwen gazes back upon the flowering Chinese art and culture scene of the 1990s through a photo essay of her own work. Also featured in the middle are explorations of the work of Lee Kit, Qin Qi, Ran Huang, and Shen Wei, plus a fashion spread by Cheng Ran. The top section includes special reports on recent happenings and developments in Hong Kong, Sharjah, and Dubai, a consideration of the artist collective GUEST, and an interview with Hilla Becher. On the bottom shelf are reviews of the 7th Berlin Biennale and of recent solo showings from Atsuko Tanaka, Cheng Ran, Li Shurui, Karen Cytter and He An, among a number of group exhibitions from across China and Taiwan.