Twenty-one years on, his work remains suffused not just with nostalgia but with reflections upon nostalgia. In rampantly commercializing China, such a once-taboo subject as Mao's ex-mistress becomes a public, commercial attraction.
And, in a vicissitude of Chinese history, even Mao, briefly out of favor after his death, recycles into popularity, "becoming a brand name in the materialistic age, with Mao restaurants and Mao antiques and people collecting Mao badges and stamps for their potential value in the market."
Oddest, perhaps, is the old house presided over by an impoverished grandee of a kind who throws parties dedicated to recapturing the grand atmosphere of 1930s Shanghai. Is nostalgia a capitalist thing?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010