Staging art and Chineseness

The politics of trans/nationalism and global expositions

Staging art and Chineseness is about the politics of borders ascribed to Chinese contemporary art and the identification of artists by locations and exhibitions. The paradoxical subject of Chineseness is central to this inquiry, which begins with the question, what does the term Chinese Art mean in the aftermath of the globalized shift in art? Through an exploration of embodied and performative representations (including eco-feminist performances) by artists from China and diasporic locations, the case studies in this book put to the test the very premise of the genealogical inscription for cultural objects attributed to the residency, homeland, or citizenship of the Chinese artist. Acknowledging the orientalist assumptions and appropriations that Chineseness also signifies, this study connects the artistic performance to the greater historical scope of ‘geographical consciousness’ envisioned by past and present global expositions. The emergence of China’s shiyan meishu experimental art movement in the 1980s–1990s has largely been the defining focus for ‘global art’ during the period when artfairs, biennials, and triennials also came into prominence as the new globalized art institution (exemplified by China’s first biennial in Guangzhou). The political aim is to recognize the multiple contradictions and repetitions of history engendered by art, nationalism, and capital in the legacy of Althusserian/Maoist interpellations – the reifications of global capitalist illusions in the twenty-first century are conveyed in this book by performative artistic expressions and the temporal space of the exposition.

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