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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.

performance of Chineseness is related to issues of nationalism, migration, citizenship, boundaries, and embodiment; through an exploration of these determinants of identity, the engagements of global art today can be connected to the modern history of art and cultural representation. The potential for making these issues apparent is one that bodily-oriented art engenders, and the case studies of artists like Chang and Zhang in this book focus on the artistic medium that can reveal the difference among diverse Chinese identities, usually ascribed to mainland China. As

in Staging art and Chineseness
The global exposition and the museum

changes the dynamics for viewing artistic production that represents China as a ‘nation,’ since it provides the perfect situation for staging the concept of the embodied ‘self’ of an elusive Chineseness through bodily-oriented art. But the conditions of change in 1999 underlie Harald Szeemann’s selection of artists for the Aperto section The archive of Chineseness 5.3  Zhang Huan, To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond, 1997, performance document of the Biennale, and while the curator/director was interested in the experimental media that artists were adopting in

in Staging art and Chineseness