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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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Chinese representation at the Venice Biennale (1993–2003)

institutional sphere continued in the 1980s, notably with the organisation of exhibitions in the apartments of foreigners residing in China. The role of foreign diplomats Mao in a gondola in China has been very important for raising the profile of Chinese contemporary art. For example, the greatest collector of Chinese contemporary art is Uli Sigg, who was the Swiss ambassador to China from 1995 to 1998 and is the heir of this tradition. The empowerment of contemporary Chinese art went hand in hand with the return of a policy of relative laissez-faire in the Chinese

in Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

of the global art category, verifying the growth of contemporary artistic production outside of exclusively European and North American countries. But, as Zhu emphasizes, the pioneering movements in China were perceived as such by the Euro-American art institution. Moreover, Chinese American artists were never considered as part of the movements in China. In the aftermath, the question of artistic authenticity and what constitutes ‘Chinese contemporary art’ compels new approaches to addressing identification and artistic subjects – primarily the difference in

in Staging art and Chineseness
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Staging art and Chineseness

Introduction: staging art and Chineseness This is a book about the politics of borders in the era of global art, specifically the borders ascribed to Chinese contemporary art and the identification of Chinese artists by locations and exhibitions. Globalization in the twenty-first century has re-drawn the landscape of art and art history, transforming the cultural mapping, the ideologies, and methodologies for the study of contemporary art produced by cultures that were categorized as ‘non-Western’ during the twentieth century. The period of the 1980s and 1990s

in Staging art and Chineseness
The global exposition and the museum

that international society could learn about local Chinese contemporary art.’9 Indeed, Lu’s efforts proved successful, as shown in the following year when fourteen artists were invited by director Achille Bonito Oliva to participate for the first time in the 1993 Venice Biennale. Oliva had included fourteen artists from China – Ding Yi, Wang Guangyi, Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi, Xu Bing, Liu Wei, Fang Lijun, Yu Hong, Feng Mengbo, Li Shan, Yu Youhan, Wang Ziwei, Sun Liang, and Song Haidong in the section called ‘Passagio a Oriente’ – in addition to Taiwanese artist Lee

in Staging art and Chineseness
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The art of contradiction

popular imagery. Returning the focus to the present moment, Estelle Bories’s chapter ‘Mao in a gondola: Chinese representation at the Venice Biennale (1993–2003)’ investigates the re-emergence of Chinese contemporary art in the West, concentrating on the way in which artists and curators addressed the revolutionary past of China. It considers Cai Guoqiang’s famous restaging of Rent Collection Courtyard, presented during the forty-eighth Biennale of Venice in 1999. The appearance of Chinese art at the Biennale occurred with much fanfare. While, on the one hand, this

in Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution
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Locating global ­contemporary art in global China

, Specific Space, My Truth’: Total Modernity in Chinese Contemporary Art,” and Wu Hung, “A Case of Being ‘Contemporary’: Conditions, Spheres, and Narratives of Contemporary Chinese Art,” in Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, eds. Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor, and Nancy Condee (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 113–132; 133–164; 290–306. 12 For an alternative example of a contemporary art exhibition and catalogue focused on Asian cities, see Hou Hanru and Hans-Ulrich Obrist’s pioneering Cities on the Move: Urban Chaos and Global

in Above sea

face both cultural tradition and foreign influence. On one hand, it is firmly opposed to new conservatism and rigid adhesion to tradition, while calling for renovating and absorbing the traditional heritage to make it compatible with contemporary art and culture. On the other, it is strongly against following the West blindly and pursuing fame and profit at the cost of national dignity. At the same time, it encourages borrowing, fusing effectively humanistic spirit and other valuable elements in foreign cultures to enrich Chinese contemporary art. Shanghai Biennale

in Above sea
(eco)feminist interpellations of Chineseness in the work of Yuk King Tan, Cao Fei, and Wu Mali

Chinese Art exhibition of Chinese contemporary art. Epitaph (see figure 3.2) is a symbolic and meditative work commemorating the massacre of thousands of Taiwanese citizens who were killed by Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist troops on 28 February 1947.62 (The Kuomintang had been given control of Taiwan following the surrender of Japan in 1945.) In the White Terror aftermath, the Taiwanese endured forty years of martial law in which tens of thousands of people were executed between 1949 and 1992 for suspected anti-government activities.63 Wu asserts that while male victims

in Staging art and Chineseness