The Great Wall is arguably China’s most powerful and resonant icon—one referred to by a number of artists in the exhibition Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection. The finale of the museum’s public conversation series will explore the fascinating history—cultural, political and military—of this incomparable phenomenon. Topics will include Great Wall myths and their origins, the meaning of the Great Wall for China in the modern as well as the premodern era, and the field of Great Wall research itself.
David Spindler, a Beijing-based independent historian, began his study of the Great Wall in 1994 while doing graduate work in history at Beijing University; for the last six years he has devoted himself full time to the topic. Spindler and the fascinating findings of his research were the subject of a major profile in The New Yorker in 2007.
Michael Meyer is the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, a critically acclaimed book about day-to-day life in Beijing’s oldest neighborhood—where the author himself has lived—and its threatened destruction. The winner of a Lowell Thomas award for travel writing, Meyer has published widely, including in Time magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and Smithsonian. Meyer’s familiarity with the Great Wall and with preservation practices in and around Beijing will ensure an engaging and searching conversation with David Spindler.
N.B.: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Peter Hessler, originally scheduled to appear with David Spindler, will be unable to participate.