U of Oslo positions

University of Oslo Positions in Art History

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships associated with the ERC- funded project “ECOART” (1-2 post-doctoral positions, 3,5 years each).

Doctoral Research Fellowships associated with the ERC-funded project “ECOART” (1-2 doctoral positions, 3 years each plus more if completed in time)

Associate Professorship in History of Art (2025-2029).

Posted by: Anna Grasskamp <anna.grasskamp@ifikk.uio.no>

Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Sean Macdonald’s review of Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir, by Ai Weiwei, with Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Constantini. The review appears below and at is online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/zodiac/.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, MCLC

Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir

By Ai Weiwei
With Elettra Stamboulis, illustrated by Gianluca Costantini


Reviewed by Sean Macdonald
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2024)


It is too often forgotten that some if not all symbols had a material and concrete existence before coming to symbolize anything . . . Another example is the zodiac, which represents the horizon of the herder set down in an immensity of pasture: a figure, then, of demarcation and orientation. Initially- and fundamentally- absolute space has a relative aspect. Relative spaces, for their part, secrete the absolute.[1]—Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space

If so far in this book the word “dissident” has been used sparingly, it is because the vast majority of intellectuals who desired change and a shift towards a more democratic and open system did not perceive themselves as “dissident.” [2]—Gregory B. Lee, The Lost Decade

Figure 1: The cover. Zodiac, a Graphic Memoir (Ten Speed Graphic, 2024). 176pp. ISBN: 978-1-9848-6299-0.

Ai Weiwei 艾未未 is a true postmodern artist. When Ai started producing art in New York City in the 1980s, Andy Warhol was still alive. But Ai did not just pick up techniques from contemporary Western art, he entered into it headfirst through a kind of performance of personality. In traditional Chinese visual culture, personality is as important as individualism is in the avant-garde.[3] Ai Weiwei’s personality is an important component of his art. In some ways, this gives the impression that his role is analogous to that of a film director, organizing performances and happenings to remind the public he has not gone away.

For many scholars of contemporary Chinese culture, Ai Weiwei is a presence, even a cultural icon of dissident culture. As Xiaobing Tang noted almost a decade ago, Ai was “the darling of Western mainstream media and art establishments.”[4] And his influence has only grown with social media, of which Ai is a very savvy and capable user. For anyone who has followed Ai Weiwei’s work, the overarching narrative of Zodiac—his recently published graphic novel memoir—is familiar. It tells of his father Ai Qing’s life as a poet arrested and imprisoned in 1932 by the KMT for his revolutionary activities. Under the CCP, Ai Qing was arrested as a “rightist” and class enemy of the state in 1957 and subsequently exiled to Xinjiang. Ai Weiwei accompanied his father on his exile (12-14). Following his work on the Sichuan earthquake in August 2009, Ai was beaten by police. In 2010, he would be placed under house arrest. In April 2011, he was arrested at the Beijing airport and prosecuted for tax evasion, among other charges, and lost the ability to travel outside the country until 2015 when he was given a passport. Ai’s politics is very public, and he has become a global citizen, perhaps one of the most identifiable contemporary Chinese artists, or contemporary artists period. He is a celebrity avant-garde artist, who has already made a historical impact and has a globally-known personality. Continue reading

The Nomadic Artist in the Chinese Diasporas

“The Nomadic Artist in the Chinese Diasporas” Virtual Conference
April 18, 2024, 2-5pm EST
April 25, 2024, 5-8pm EST

Information and Registration

Recent interdisciplinary scholarship has increasingly demonstrated the need to highlight the social heterogeneity of multiple Chinese diasporas instead of a singular Chinese diaspora. Established and emerging scholars from Australia, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States will discuss the artworks of Xiao Lu, Song Ling, Li Yuan-Chia, Richard Show-Yu Lin, Kim Lim, Cai Guo-Qiang, Hong Xian, Huang Yao, Hung Liu, Tehching Hsieh and others. The presentations are intended to contribute to an examination of such critical but contested concepts as migration and transmigration, displacement, exile, homeland, mobility, transnationalism, nationality, coloniality, citizenship, and cosmopolitanism in cultural and art historical studies.

Co-organized by

Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland
The Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Co-sponsored by

Center for East Asian Studies & Center for Global Migration Studies, University of Maryland
The Endowment of the Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Speakers

Paul Gladston, Eleanor Stoltzfus, Lydia Ohl, Nan Zhong, Wenny Teo, Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres, Dorothy Moss, Yu-chieh Li

Aesthetics in Contemporary China–cfp

Dear all,

I am delighted to share with you the theme of the 17th CCVA Annual Conference (Extra)ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China, convened by Dr Federica Mirra and Prof Jiang Jiehong, in collaboration with Nanjing University of the Arts.

Date: 9-10 November 2024 (tbc)
Venue: Nanjing University of the Arts, Nanjing, China (in-person only)
Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2024

(Extra)Ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China
非比寻常:当代中国的生活美学

From pre-dynastic rites and music to literati art and volumes on the pleasures of life, the notion of living has long inspired Chinese works of art and objects of design, which, in turn, document and inform diverse modes of society and culture, broadly conceived. More recently, an interest in everydayness re-gained momentum between the 19th and early 20th century. Later, during the Maoist era, life in the countryside and the labour of the masses was brought to the fore with the collective production of paintings, woodblock prints and propaganda posters. Throughout the 1980s, Chinese artists still drew inspiration from living, as suggested by the pioneering work by artist collectives such as the Pond Society (Chishe) and the Polit-Sheer-Form Office (Zheng chun ban), or the early works by contemporary artists in the 1990s, e.g., Geng Jianyi, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, and Zhuang Hui. Continue reading

Hillenbrand interview

Source: China Digital Times (2/14/24)
Interview: Margaret Hillenbrand on Her Books “On the Edge” (2023) and “Negative Exposures” (2020).
Posted by

Margaret Hillenbrand, professor of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford, joined CDT to discuss her two latest books: “On the Edge: Feeling Precarious in China” (2023) and “Negative Exposures: Knowing What Not to Know in Contemporary China” (2020).

On the Edge” examines antagonistic cultural forms generated in response to the expulsion of hundreds of millions of China’s precariat from mainstream society, effectively condemning them to “zombie citizenship,” which Hillenbrand describes as “a state of exile from the shelter of the law.” The book covers a kaleidoscopic range of art: assembly line poetry, shit-eating livestreams (literally) on short video apps, and documentaries on trash, to offer but a sampling. Our conversation focuses on two forms: delegated performances, in which charismatic artists recruit vulnerable workers to participate in staged site-specific installations that often include degrading, even sadistic, elements; and “suicide shows,” in which workers stage dramatic protests on high-rise edifices and tower cranes to demand their unpaid wages. The first half of the interview is a wide-ranging discussion on the dark feelings generated by the “cliff-edge” of precarity and expulsion, and the potentially socially transformative powers of abrasive behavior, despite its obvious destructive potential.

The second half of the conversation focuses on “Negative Exposures,” a study of the relationship between “photo-forms”—photographs and their remediated renderings in other media—and “public secrecy” in China. The book makes a dramatic challenge to popular narratives of an “amnesiac China” forgetful of its traumatic past, proposing instead that the silences of the past are, at least in part, conspiratorial. (For more on “amnesia,” see CDT’s recent discussion with Perry Link on Liu Xiabo.) While readily acknowledging the state-engineered project to silence the past, Hillenbrand argues that photo-forms capture “the paradox of things that are fully known but are totally unacknowledgeable.” Silence about China’s past, in Hillenbrand’s telling, is part therapeutic, exculpatory, and self-interested—not so much a product of forgetting but rather, at least in part, of active choice. Our discussion of “Negative Exposures” focuses on photo-forms related to Bian Zhongyun, former vice-principal at an elite girls’ school in Beijing and the victim of the capital’s first recorded murder by Red Guards on August 5, 1966. In 2014, Song Binbin, daughter of a founding father of the Chinese Communist Party and former lead Red Guard at Bian’s school, stood before a bronze bust of Bian erected on the campus they once shared and tearfully apologized for her role in the vice-principal’s death. We discuss whether Song’s controversial apology “created ripples of sound” that have punctured public secrecy in China, or whether the silence of the past continues to hold. Continue reading

Anxiety Aesthetics

NEW PUBLICATION
Anxiety Aesthetics: Maoist Legacies in China, 1978-1985
By Jennifer Dorothy Lee
University of California Press, 2024

Anxiety Aesthetics is the first book to consider a prehistory of contemporaneity in China through the emergent creative practices in the aftermath of the Mao era. Arguing that socialist residues underwrite contemporary Chinese art, complicating its theorization through Maoism, Jennifer Dorothy Lee traces a selection of historical events and controversies in late 1970s and early 1980s Beijing. Lee offers a fresh critical frame for doing symptomatic readings of protest ephemera and artistic interventions in the Beijing Spring social movement of 1978–80, while exploring the rhetoric of heated debates waged in institutional contexts prior to the ’85 New Wave. Lee demonstrates how socialist aesthetic theories and structures continued to shape young artists’ engagement with both space and selfhood and occupied the minds of figures looking to reform the nation. In magnifying this fleeting moment, Lee provides a new historical foundation for the unprecedented global exposure of contemporary Chinese art today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Dorothy Lee is an associate professor of East Asian art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Anxiety Aesthetics is her first book. Lee’s article on socialist abstraction and the painter Wu Guanzhong will be out in positions: asia critique in May 2024.

Posted by: Jennifer Lee <jlee241@artic.edu>

ChinaComx doctoral positions

Call for Applications for ChinaComx

The Institute for Chinese Studies at Heidelberg University (Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies) invites applications for three PhD positions within the framework of the ERC funded research project “Comics Culture in the People’s Republic of China (ChinaComx)” to start in September 2024.

ChinaComx investigates the intellectual, political, social, historical, and transcultural dimensions of a medium still heavily understudied: lianhuanhua, literally “linked images” 连环画. It studies them as a medium from the People’s Republic of China and its place within the larger Chinese and global comics culture. Studying the conditions of comic art’s production, distribution and consumption, the project sheds light on how comics contribute to the project of nation building, to the creation of a new socialist human and to the continued legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In addition, it investigates how these at times highly propagandistic texts were read by ordinary citizens—and how, at the same time, lianhuanhua were one of the most popular reading materials presenting stories loved by children and adults alike. In providing more knowledge about comic culture from China and in contributing to theoretical debates, ChinaComx aims to delineate the term “lianhuanhua” as a distinct genre and area of academic research that bears specific characteristics, being embedded in a particular context of origin, yet, changing across time and space as Japanese manga, Korean manhwa or Franco-Belgian bandes desinnées.

Your tasks:

  • Conceptualization and execution of a doctoral project within one of the three focus areas delineated below
  • Active participation in the joint activities of the project (including seminars and workshops, joint writing projects and translations; (digital) exhibitions)

Continue reading

The Moving Image in Contemporary Chinese Art–cfp

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art
When the Shadow Flickers: The Moving Image in Contemporary Chinese Art
A special issue co-edited by Yang Panpan and Jiang Jiehong

Call for Papers

At a time when the moving image has become a ubiquitous presence in museums and galleries in China and the Sinophone world, the studies of the moving image in the sphere of contemporary Chinese art remain surprisingly scarce. The shadow that flickers on the walls of museums and galleries or on other surfaces has transformed what we understand as the art of curating today. In addition, documentary footage shot by Wu Wenguang, Wen Pulin, Chi Xiaoning and others retells the story of contemporary Chinese art.

This special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art makes a radical gesture towards studying the moving image as an art object, as a curatorial method and as a new form of art historical writing. The collaborative, interdisciplinary endeavour participates in – and hopefully contributes to – what Georges Didi-Huberman, speaking of Aby Warburg’s thought, terms ‘an art history turned towards cinema’: ‘to understand the temporality of images, their movements, their “survivals”, their capacity for animation’.

Possible perspectives for proposals include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Case studies of contemporary artists across Greater China and the Chinese diaspora working with the moving image
  • Curating the moving image and the moving image as a curatorial method
  • Documentary in relation to contemporary Chinese art
  • Discourses across Greater China on yingxiang yishu, and its partial semantic overlaps with video art, new media art, and artists’ film
  • Animation as contemporary art
  • Issues of acquisition, preservation and access surrounding the moving image
  • The market of the moving image

Publication Timeline

1 March 2024, abstract due (300 words)

1 November 2024, full manuscript due (7,000-8,000 words)

Publication: Spring 2025

Please send an abstract, along with a brief bio, in the same file, to Guest Editor Yang Panpan (py6@soas.ac.uk), Principal Editor Jiang Jiehong (joshua.jiang@bcu.ac.uk), and Assistant Editor Lauren Walden (ccva@bcu.ac.uk)

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art is an associate journal of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University.

China’s rebel influencer is still paying a price

Source: NYT (12/12/23)
‘I Have No Future’: China’s Rebel Influencer Is Still Paying a Price
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Li Ying used social media to help tell the world about last year’s protests. Now in exile, he has been threatened and lost his livelihood for his defiance.
By Li Yuan

An illustration of a set of stone feet on a stone platform facing a chaotic scene that includes flames, candles and flying papers.

Credit…Xinmei Liu

In November 2022, Li Ying was a painter and art school graduate in Milan, living in a state of sadness, fear and despair. China’s strict pandemic policies had kept him from seeing his parents for three years, and he was unsure where his country was heading.

In China, after enduring endless Covid tests, quarantines and lockdowns, people staged the most widespread protests the country had seen in decades, many holding roughly letter-size paper to demonstrate defiance against censorship and tyranny, in what has been called the White Paper movement.

Then Mr. Li did something that he never anticipated would become so significant: He turned his Twitter account into an information clearinghouse. People inside China sent him photos, videos and other witness accounts, at times more than a dozen per second, that would otherwise be censored on the Chinese internet. He used Twitter, which is banned in China, to broadcast them to the world. The avatar on Mr. Li’s account, his drawing of a cat that is both cute and menacing, became famous.

His following on the platform swelled by 500,000 in a matter of weeks. To the Chinese state, he was a troublemaker. To some Chinese, he was a superhero who stood up to their authoritarian government and their iron-fisted leader, Xi Jinping.

When the government abruptly ended the Covid policy last December, Mr. Li and other young activists faced a question: Was their protest a moment in history, or a footnote? Continue reading

Seediq want Sweden to keep their ancestors’ cultural artifacts

Source: Taiwan Plus News (9/4/23)
A Taiwanese Indigenous group wants Sweden to keep their ancestors’ cultural artifacts.
By Louise_Watt

This video doesn’t say which Stockholm museum is showing the Seediq collection. The objects may be from the Ethnographic Museum but Michel Lee in the picture has been with the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. Both belong in the listed group of state museums in charge of exotic objects: the National Museums of World Culture.

It seems this is the exhibit at the EM.

Best wishes to them all. The Seediq are lucky to be allowed to exist and take charge of themselves; what a contrast to genocide China.

ps. If the museums get good press and many visitors, it might become more difficult for the government bureaucrats to kill them.

(There is an ongoing crisis right now with the National art gallery, next door neighbor of the MFEA, which may have to close and move from its purpose-built edifice across from the Palace. It was renovated last year, but the profiteering state buildings agency SFV would prefer to evict all museums so they can rent the [purpose-built and renovated] buildings to whoever has more money  — it’s a La-la-land of fake “market” economics and corrupt politics; people outside Sweden cannot believe it–they want to believe it’s a well-managed country that cares responsibly for its culture and monuments. Not so… I myself quit as MFEA director in the face of this uncertainty.)

regards,

Magnus Fiskesjö, magnus.fiskesjo@cornell.edu

Recreating a bygone China

Source: NYT (8/19/23)
Recreating a Bygone China, One Miniature Home at a Time
China’s rapid economic growth has meant the demolition of countless rural homes, and a burgeoning nostalgia. That’s where the miniaturists come in.
By  (Reporting from the studios of several miniaturists in Hebei and Shandong Provinces)

A wheelbarrow and icebox sit in front of a one-story house with peeling paint on the windows.

Shen Peng painstakingly crafted a miniature replica of his childhood home near Baoding, China. A hairstylist by trade, Mr. Shen taught himself to make the models as a surprise for his grandmother.

Not long after Shen Peng’s grandfather died, his grandmother visited the site of the house where she and her husband once lived. The government had demolished the house, in northern China, nearly 15 years before as part of a redevelopment project. The site still hadn’t been developed, and she could barely walk around the family’s old plot because the grass was so overgrown.

Mr. Shen wondered: Could he help her relive her memories another way?

For more than six months, he labored in secret after his day job as a hairdresser. Finally, Mr. Shen, now 31, presented his grandmother with a surprise — a handcrafted 1:20 scale replica of her old home.

There was the wire clothesline in the courtyard, draped with a blue blanket cut into the size of a postage stamp. There was the rickety bicycle, outside a shed constructed with foam boards and plaster. Mr. Shen had even traveled to the site of the old house to better recreate the fragment of brick wall that still remained.

The project led him into a small but growing community of artists in China filling an increasingly urgent demand: miniature replicas of homes that have been demolished, remodeled or otherwise swept away by China’s modernization. Continue reading

The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy

The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy

The experimental exhibition curated by Dr Panpan Yang is currently on display at SOAS Brunei Gallery’s Japanese roof garden until 23 September, 2023.The exhibition presents a set of stones – whose textures strikingly resemble the 26 letters of the English alphabet – all found in nature, arranged, and re-arranged by artists Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane. Together they articulate this line:

‘Unfit to mend the sky’ 無才可去補蒼天

This line is borrowed and translated from a Buddhist verse that appears in the first chapter of The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber). It is said that when the goddess Nü Wa melted down stones to mend the sky, she made 36,501 blocks of stones. She used only 36,500 of these. The remaining block of stone, alone rejected, lamented day and night in distress and shame. Jia Baoyu, the male protagonist of the novel, was born with a piece of luminescent jade in his mouth; it was the rejected stone. After generations, the stone had returned to its huge shape, and there was an inscription discernible on it: an account of the stone being rejected, its transformation, its descent into the world of mortals, and all its joys and sorrows. The above-mentioned Buddhist verse was inscribed on the stone’s back.

Located in the heart of central London, Brunei Gallery’s Japanese roof garden is a space of contemplation, meditation and transcendence. It is in this space that the stones took spiritual flight. For the very first time, the stones tell us a story of the stone.

Panpan Yang <py6@soas.ac.uk>

Southeast Asian art sources?

For research on the art of Southeast Asia and more specifically on the “Nanyang school” of modern art from the late 1940’s – 1960’s, I would appreciate referrals to news articles / publications / exhibitions of “Nanyang” or “Southeast Asian” art. References in China would be of particular interest although I am not literate in Mandarin.

Please contact me off-list at the email address below.

Many thanks,

Peter Garlid <peter@librisource.com>

Mystery of the disappearing van Gogh

Source: NYT (5/29/23)
The Mystery of the Disappearing van Gogh
After a painting by the Dutch artist sold at auction, a movie producer claimed to be the owner. It later vanished from sight, with a trail leading to Caribbean tax havens and a jailed Chinese billionaire.
By Michael ForsytheIsabelle QianMuyi Xiao and Vivian Wang

Two men dressed in black stand with a colorful van Gogh painting, Chinese text written on the wall above them.

Kevin Ching, left, then the head of Sotheby’s in Asia, appeared at a Hong Kong ceremony in 2014 to present the van Gogh painting to Wang Zhongjun, the movie producer who claimed to have bought it. Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The bidding for Lot 17 started at $23 million.

In the packed room at Sotheby’s in Manhattan, the price quickly climbed: $32 million, $42 million, $48 million. Then a new prospective buyer, calling from China, made it a contest between just two people.

On the block that evening in November 2014 were works by Impressionist painters and Modernist sculptors that would make the auction the most successful yet in the firm’s history. But one painting drew particular attention: “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies,” completed by Vincent van Gogh weeks before his death.

Pushing the price to almost $62 million, the Chinese caller prevailed. His offer was the highest ever for a van Gogh still life at auction.

In the discreet world of high-end art, buyers often remain anonymous. But the winning bidder, a prominent movie producer, would proclaim in interview after interview that he was the painting’s new owner. Continue reading

Yue Minjun’s paintings censored on Weibo

Source: China Digital Times (5/24/23)
Yue Minjun’s Iconic Paintings of Grinning PLA Soldiers Being Censored on Weibo
By 

If the lesson last week was “Don’t laugh about the PLA,” this week’s message seems to be, “Don’t even crack a smile.”

First, stand-up comedian Li Haoshi (stage name “House”) was accused of defaming the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) because of a joke he made that referenced a PLA slogan and seemed to liken stray dogs to soldiers. House was deplatformed, pressured to apologize, and placed under police investigation, while the Shanghai comedy studio that employs him was fined nearly $2 million dollars and had their performances suspended indefinitely. At least one of House’s online defenders was arrested.

Now it appears that one of China’s most renowned contemporary painters, Beijing-based Yue Minjun (岳敏君), has been targeted by online nationalists who accuse him of “insulting the military” and “defaming revolutionary heroes and martyrs.” Painting in a style has been dubbed “Cynical Realism,” Yue is well known for his colorful, off-kilter, and instantly recognizable paintings of wide-mouthed, toothily grinning or laughing men—all of whom bear a close resemblance to the artist himself. Many of his works are sold at auction, exhibited in museums, or held in private collections. At a 2007 auction at Sotheby’s London, his painting “Execution” sold for £2.9 million pounds ($5.9 million U.S. dollars), “making it the most expensive Chinese contemporary artwork sold on the secondary market at the time.” Continue reading