Scheduled to open to the public on July 2, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will display on rotation more than 900 treasures from the collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Built over four years, the design and construction of the HKPM reflect the charm of traditional Chinese culture.
Sculptures in Front of the Camera: An artistic talk by Geng Xue
Wednesday, 15 June 2022
12:30 – 14:00 British Summer Time
What happens when a work of sculpture is placed in front of the camera? Based on her own creative practices, contemporary Chinese artist Geng Xue reflects on her recently completed moving-image trilogy, which is composed of Mr. Sea (2014), The Poetry of Michelangelo (2015), and The Name of Gold (2019). The creative fusion of the language of film and that of sculpture – especially the ways in which lighting, poetry, sound, and traces of the hand come into play in the transformative process – will be discussed.
About the Speaker
Geng Xue (born. 1983) is a contemporary Chinese artist whose work covers a variety of media, including porcelain, sculpture, painting, installation, and moving image. She currently teaches in the Department of Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (of China), where she received her BFA in sculpture and MFA in printmaking. She has been invited to exhibit her works at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019), the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), and the Busan Biennale, South Korea (2014), among many others.
A Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees before the event starts.
Last week, I (belatedly) learned that Taiwan printmaker, illustrator, and bird expert He Huaren (何華仁) passed away in the week prior to Christmas 2021. MCLC Listserve members interested in (woodcut) printmaking and illustration will likely know of his work, and may have purchased books written by He or others, featuring his superb illustrations. He Huaren was also one of Taiwan’s most renowned birders and an activist for the preservation and protection of Taiwan’s bird and wildlife habitat; he was especially fond of raptors. Huaren was extremely generous, ever humble, had an outstanding sense of humor, and loved single malt scotch. Here are some sources on or by He Huaren.
The history of Hong Kong animation has always been translocal and transnational. It can be traced back to at least the late 1940s, when some mainland animators and cartoonists in exile like the Wan Brothers, Zhang Guangyu, Liao Bingxiong, and Te Wei made animated shorts and even experimented with the making of an animated feature film in postwar Hong Kong. But the local animated filmmaking did not begin until the 1950s, when advertising companies initiated the practice of using animation in commercials. Live-action filmmakers also began to skillfully incorporate animated special effects into martial arts cinema and experiment with animation techniques in short films. The early 1980s witnessed the rise of animated feature films with the release of Old Master Q series, which were co-productions between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Tsui Hark’s CGI feature A Chinese Ghost Story (1997) involved the professionals and studios in Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China. It was not until 2001 that a locally produced animated feature film, My Life as McDull, made its debut in Hong Kong. With the digital turn in the 1990s, independent animated filmmaking flourished, characterized by a variety of narrative and formal innovations that enriched the international film festivals around the world. Locally produced but marked by a distinct anime style with Hong Kong flavor, Kong Kee’s Dragon Delusions project (2018-present) opened a new path for Hong Kong independent animation. The co-production of Astro Boy (2009) between Hong Kong and the world also blazed a trail for Hong Kong commercial animation. Amidst the global flows of culture, can we still defend the “Hong Kongness” of Hong Kong animation in a floating city that is disappearing? Continue reading →
MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Paul Bevan’s review of Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn, by John A. Crespi. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/paul-bevan/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk A. Denton, MCLC
Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn
By John A. Crespi
Reviewed by Paul Bevan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2022)
I have met John Crespi in person only once. I’ve always thought this a pity, because we work in similar areas and explore the same sort of material in our research. Our one and only meeting took place quite by chance in a reading room in the Shanghai Library more than a decade ago, at a time when scholars from outside China took library research and fieldwork for granted. I’d been told in advance by Michel Hockx that John would be in Shanghai at the same time as me, but I had made no plans to meet him. One afternoon in the library, on seeing what appeared to be an American man holding a copy of Zhongguomanhua (中國漫畫), I immediately guessed that this was John and promptly introduced myself. For both of us, the research into manhua and pictorial magazines that we carried out in Shanghai—on this occasion, and on subsequent visits—eventually resulted in our respective monographs.
In the introduction to his book, Crespi tells the captivating story of how he was introduced to manhua in the mid-1990s through piles of dusty volumes in an underground warehouse, a converted bomb shelter belonging to the “China Bookstore’s Old Periodicals Department” (1). Today, at a time when Chinese historical magazines of all types have become highly sought after as collectables in China and abroad, a story of exciting discovery and acquisition such as this seems like a dream of another age. The magazines John purchased at the time became the basis for his hugely valuable project, the digitization of the magazine Modern Sketch, and related websites at Colgate University and MIT’s Visualizing Culture project. Continue reading →
We invite you to an online Zoom lecture “Nationalist Internationalism: International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935” of Dr. Xing Zhao (Assistant Professor of Art and Design, Nanjing University). The lecture is part of the Lecture Series: Re-examining Modernity and Contemporaneity through Chinese Art (2022/23) at the University of Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG).
This presentation focuses on the “International Exhibition of Chinese Art” (1935) in London, which deployed art for public diplomacy and spoke a modern international language that embodied the rising awareness of national culture as promoted by the League of Nations. While the Republican government lacked the fundamental economic and military infrastructure critical for navigating the modern world, the alternative system of soft power and brand nationalism rooted in culture, tradition, and morality assumed the responsibility of communicating a unified image of China as a modern nation-state to the domestic and global audiences. Continue reading →
On October 27, 2021, Hong Kong legislators passed an amendment bill on the censorship law, which would allow the government to halt film productions deemed threatening to national security. The amendment was an extension of the national security law which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in July 2020 in the aftermath of the 2019 social protests against the enactment of the criminal extraction bill. Aligned with the national security law, the newly amended censorship regulation bans films that may “endorse, support, glorify, encourage, and incite activities that might endanger national security,” and citizens who hold illegal screenings of these films will face heavy penalties and jail sentence (Yau, Leung, and Ng). Continue reading →
“Humanity is far from understanding itself. The turning point of civilization’s recklessly unrestrained exploration of the abyss of consciousness has been slow to arrive. Actually, we already know that Hell is our ideal way home (31).”[i] —Hu Xiaojiang, The Father on the Moon
Before I read this book, I was not aware of Hu Xiaojiang 胡晓江 as an independent comic book artist. Therefore, I am approaching this artist from the rather unique perspective of a book of short stories and illustrations. Comics, animation, and gaming have been growing as important cultural industries in China for the past two decades at least. From the limited amount of independent comics I have seen from China, including Hong Kong, such work shares a tendency to be idiosyncratic and personal (for want of better term), and often but not exclusively employs techniques that draw attention to the hand-made aspects of the art, features they share with independent comics outside of China. Although comic book artists often cringe at facile separations between mainstream and non-mainstream work, independent comics are first of all defined by numbers. The readership is lower. Distribution has a lot to do with this. But if a particular form or genre is permitted to thrive economically, niche markets can resolve this problem. Chinese studies has been slow to pick up on the importance of mass visual culture media like comic books and animation. Sometimes this is just a case of a lack of critical tools to discuss different forms of narrative and art. Sometimes it’s just a case of knee-jerk academic ideologies. Shocking as it sounds, some researchers have trouble with the idea of discussing predominant mass media forms. As if the novel isn’t a type of mass print media, for example. Or as if the only valid types of films for classroom discussion and research were independent documentaries and so-called auteur cinema, important in their own right but not the only point of entry for understanding media. Some academics might even question the existence of solid academic readings of certain forms of cultural production because they consider it beneath the cultural institution they represent. It’s a case of “Open up the floodgates, the cartoonists are coming to destroy real literature and film” or something like that. Thankfully there is academic freedom. Continue reading →
MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Julia Keblinska’s translation of “Into the Tiger’s Den,” volume 3 of a lianhuanhua (serial comic) adapted from Qu Bo’s novel Tracks in the Snowy Forest. Find a teaser below. For the full translation, with images of each panel, see: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/into-the-tigers-den/. My gratitude to Julia Keblinska for sharing her work with the MCLC community.
Kirk Denton, MCLC
Into the Tiger’s Den 深入虎穴
Adapted from the novel by Qu Bo 曲波 Tracks in the Snowy Forest 林海雪原
Wang Xingbei 王星北 (adaptation); Luo Xing 罗兴 and Wang Yiqiu 王亦秋 (illustrations)
Translated by Julia Keblinska
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March 2022)
The second volume, “Troops Divide onto Three Roads,” tells the story of a small detachment of soldiers who capture the bandit Luan Ping and search out the “Vanguard Map” of Nipple Mountain’s Horse Cudgel Xu. They then divide into three groups and set out to trace the enemy’s tracks.
This volume follows Yang Zirong as he disguises himself as a bandit and, with only a horse for company, enters the bandit nest on Tiger Mountain to become a deputy colonel under Mountain Vulture. Meanwhile, we also learn how the small detachment mobilizes the masses at Jiapi Valley Village. They organize a civilian-army team, practice skiing, and enthusiastically prepare to annihilate the cruel bandits.
The next volume, “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy,” recounts how Yang Zirong rejoins the small detachment and destroys Mountain Vulture’s bandit gang together with them.
(1) After Yang Zirong left the small detachment, he rode the speedy steed captured at Nipple Mountain. Following in the footsteps Big Chump had left in the snow, he traveled alone through the forest with only his horse for company. He now sported a full-faced beard and long hair; he looked just like a real bandit. [click here to read the entire text]
The ReadChina project is pleased to announce the launching of a webpage containing a few Chinese lianhuanhua in translation, including images, Chinese original, English translation, and brief introduction to the respective comics. We hope that colleagues may find this a useful resource for research and teaching this medium.
Four-year funded PhD fellowship in archaeology and/or art and/or material culture of China at Leiden University, from Sept 2022. Subject area wide open in terms of historical period, medium, approach, etc. Deadline 11 April. Please forward to potential candidates. Thank you! See https://edu.nl/9kbpx.
A performance art piece by a student who sat in a cage to protest a draconian lockdown of the Beijing Film Academy (BFA) recently went viral, and was censored just as quickly. Like many other Chinese citizens, university students have been living under strict lockdowns, and are beginning to chafe at the restrictions—and at administrators’ lack of responsiveness to students’ concerns. With the appearance of the omicron variant and fears of new COVID-19 outbreaks if protocols are relaxed, even more Chinese schools and universities are instituting lockdowns.
On November 22, a performance art piece by a Beijing Film Academy student began making the rounds on Weibo: the student sits in a cage, wearing a face mask over his eyes like a blindfold. A sign atop the cage reads, “Don’t leave the cage unless strictly necessary” (非必要不出笼); an online commentary on the performance notes that the sign is a riff on the school’s unwritten COVID-19 policy, “Don’t leave campus unless strictly necessary” (非必要不出校), interpreting the performance as a critique of Beijing Film Academy’s brute, indefinite lockdown of its campus. Continue reading →
Artist Sakuliu (right) and the exhibition’s curator Patrick Flores. Photo courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) A veteran Indigenous artist will represent Taiwan at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which is organizing the Taiwan Pavilion at the event, said on Friday.
Sakuliu, an artist from Taiwan’s Paiwan people, will create a spiritual site at the Taiwan Pavilion and fill it with new works including sculptures, installation, and animation inspired by the Paiwan mythology and culture, the museum said.
The exhibition, titled “Kinerapan: Right of Crawling,” will tell a contemporary story through the traditional Paiwan narrative.
“Kinerapan” is a Paiwan word, which carries a wide range of meanings from the “crawling” of a plant to “scope, distance and depth,” such as the area covered by a vast forest, the distance traveled by a river, or the space inhabited by a species. The word also implies the farthest distance one’s imagination can reach, according to the museum. Continue reading →