Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu Journal – the March/April 2013 Issue Now Available

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Editor’s Note: The majority of the texts in Yishu 55 focus on exhibitions and exhibition-making strategies, opening with reviews and observations on the Shanghai Biennale and Taipei Biennial—two important Asian events that demonstrated very different curatorial approaches. The other exhibitions (and one performance festival) reviewed were presented in Australia, China, Germany, Singapore, and the US, and among the topics they addressed are the question of what makes Asian art Asian, the possibility of what might constitute a portrait, new perspectives on representations of gender and sexuality, the gap between the poetic and the pragmatic in performance art in Chengdu, and how increased exposure to the global arena has left its mark on the work of Beijing-based artist Yin Xiuzhen.

Aside from the specific exhibition thematics or artists that are the subject of these texts, what repeatedly becomes apparent are references to tensions embedded within the complex relationships between regionalism, nationalism, and internationalism as well as our capacity to understand—or not—the initial intentions behind an artwork’s conception either in its place of creation or when exhibited in other contexts around the world. This can happen within a variety of conditions—from one Asian country to another Asian country, from China to Europe and Australia, from Canada to China, from the artist to his or her viewer. The conundrum that arises is whether the misinterpretation that might result from what Chang Tan refers to as “transcultural illiteracy” does the artwork a disservice or becomes richer through the addition of new layers of meaning.

Intrinsically rooted in the discussion of nationalism is the issue of identity, even as globalization gradually erodes the idea of fixed identities as artists travel and exhibit in other parts of the world, as the possibilities for the expression of gender become ever more fluid, and, especially, as the independence and specificity of place and culture become increasingly tenuous. We conclude Yishu 55 with features on artists Miao Xiaochun and Ming Fay, and, as it turns out, the irresolution of nationalisms and identity are alluded to here as well.

Keith Wallace

image (top): Yin Xiuzhen, Thought, 2009, clothes and steel, 340 cm x 510 cm x 370 cm. © Yin Xiuzhen. Courtesy of Pace Beijing.

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