OSA lunchtime lecture series | Debating Postcoloniality in Taiwanese Art
Dr Yu-Chieh Li | UNSW Art and Design
Debating Postcoloniality in Taiwanese Art
“South as Turn,” “The Secret South”—these are titles of recent events at art museums in Taiwan, as the art scene shifts towards investigations into indigenous histories, critiques of neoliberalism, and attempts to form alliances with the South in visual art. Behind this “Southbound” approach is an attempt to connect with global postcolonial discourses, born out of the frustration of defining the local. Postcolonial authenticity plays a huge role in endorsing the landscape of the plural forms of modernism in post-1989 institutional agendas, particularly at major neoliberal museums such as the Tate, MoMA, and most Biennales. The difficulties in defining the postcolonial condition form a major obstacle in translating contemporary Taiwanese art to the international art scene, as diverse colonial powers come into play: various Western powers, Japanese colonialism, and China-centrism.
This talk will question the symptom and desire to construct postcolonial authenticity and alterity by analysing the ideologies and approaches of recent curatorial projects that seek to reconfigure art history—beginning with the Taiwan Biennale in 2017 and the Asian Biennale in 2019. By looking at the ideologies behind research-based creative and curatorial practices, I dissect the postcolonial struggles in art of the post-martial law period to argue that Han-centrism, new nationalism, and the Cold War have limited Taiwanese understandings of diversity. I suggest that there has never been an authentic nor de-centering multi-cultural discourse on the island, which has limited the dissemination of Taiwanese art on the global art scene.
Speaker Bio: Yu-Chieh Li is Judith Neilson Postdoctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art at UNSW Art & Design, Sydney. She is working on a book on post-socialism, collective practice, and audience participation in post-Mao Chinese art. Her edited volume Xu Bing: Beyond the Book from the Sky was recently published by Springer Verlag. Her recent curatorial project at the Taipei Contemporary Art Centre is concerned with how Asian women artists resist and recreate feminist discourses. Li worked as an Andrew W. Mellon C-MAP Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and as an adjunct researcher at Tate Research Centre: Asia. Her current research project concerns transnational performance networks and the influence of nationalism and postcolonialism on contemporary art in the Chinese-speaking world.
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About the OSA Lunchtime Lecture Series
In 2020 the Oriental Society of Australia will hold online lectures showcasing the work of early career and higher degree researchers working across different geographical and cultural understandings of Asia. We hope to develop a network of perspectives from across the region. Please join! And get in touch if you would like to present at a future date.