ACAS Inaugural Conference rescreening

ACAS Inaugural Conference Rescreening Schedule
9am & 4pm, July 12-August 4, 2021, Hong Kong time
Inaugural Conference 2020Program

The Inaugural Conference of the Association for Chinese Animation Studies was originally held online between March 1 and May 12, 2021 (Hong Kong time). We had 70 speakers and 553 public registrants from 32 countries and regions. Here is the trailer for the conference:

The rescreening will take place between July 12 and August 4, 2021 (Hong Kong time). Each panel will be rescreened at two different time slots on that day: 9am-12noon and 16:00pm-19:00pm, Hong Kong time. Each time slot will have a designated Zoom ID. Please use the same Zoom ID at the designated time slot for all panels.

09:00am Session:

Meeting ID: 942 3289 8076

Passcode: IAS21acas Continue reading

Gallery removes exhibit ranking women ‘prettiest to ugliest’

Source: BBC News (6/18/21)
Shanghai gallery removes exhibit ranking women ‘prettiest to ugliest’

Images of women in the Uglier and Uglier artwork by Song Ta

The anonymous women were numbered according to how attractive the artist Song Ta found them. Copyright Song Ta

An art gallery in the Chinese city of Shanghai has apologised for promoting an exhibit that ranked images of women from “prettiest to ugliest”.

The video artwork “Uglier and Uglier”, by male artist Song Ta, featured about 5,000 images and videos of women in real life on a university campus. The artist then ranked them according to how attractive he found them.

After an outcry on social media, the OCAT Shanghai gallery said it had removed the exhibit.

“After receiving criticism, we re-evaluated the content of this artwork and the artist’s explanation, we found it disrespected women, and the way it was shot has copyright infringement issues,” the museum said on China’s Weibo social media platform. Continue reading

History of Chinese animation (1)

The animation industry is always in crisis in China. Every so often an article  appears bemoaning the state of Chinese animation (this one also looks like a promotion for a new department– another important factor in Chinese animation, educational institutions promoting media programs meant to feed the domestic animation industry). The message is generally the same. Once upon a time there was a Golden Age, now things are more dispersed, audiences in China are critical of domestic animation, and the movie isn’t a blockbuster like a film by Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The Golden Age is often represented by Havoc in Heaven aka Uproar in Heaven: “[w]ith its stunning visuals and beautiful music inspired by Peking Opera, [the film] received numerous awards, as well as widespread domestic and international recognition.”

Sure. Once the country opened up and sent the film abroad in the late 1970s and viewers could watch the film abroad and in China, everyone loved Uproar, until they kept playing it on TV over and over and even the kids got sick of it. Uproar was produced in two parts in 1961 & 1964 (Olga Bobrowska* does an excellent reading of the films as such). The first part was well received, the second part not so much. Might have had something to do with the Red Guards appropriating the public domain Monkey King for their own revolutionary activities.

Can animators in China learn anything from Uproar, DIsney, and Studio Ghibli? Will the most recent animation studio/institution create that ever illusive recipe to become the next global blockbuster?

It’s the story, stupid.

Sean Macdonald <>

*See Olga Bobrowska, “Maoist Remoulding of the Legend of Monkey King, or Analyzing Ideological Implications of Wan Laiming’s Havoc in Heaven,” in Twisted Dreams of History, V4 Perspective on Propaganda, Ideology, and Animation, Kraków: Wydawnictwa AGH (AGH University of Science and Technology Press, 2019): 83-104.

History of Chinese animation

Source: SupChina (6/2/21)
The history of Chinese animation, from groundbreaking ‘Havoc in Heaven’ to crappy-looking ‘Kung Fu Mulan’
By Jiayun Feng

Havoc in Heaven

Nearly 60 years after the release of “Havoc in Heaven,” the Chinese animation industry is now struggling to generate revenues at home while trying to expand its presence in the global marketplace. What went wrong? This article is brought to you by Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, a leading international joint venture university based in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.

When the lights went down for the first screenings of Princess Iron Fan 铁扇公主 across war-torn China in 1941, audiences were merely eager to see how the country’s first full-length animated feature had turned out. But the film proved to be nothing short of spectacular, heralding the start of a golden era for Chinese animation and laying the groundwork for what would eventually become Havoc in Heaven 大闹天宫 (also translated as Uproar in Heaven), an indisputable classic that has influenced a generation of filmmakers and animators, both in China and overseas.

But this golden age didn’t last. Nearly 60 years after the release of Havoc in Heaven, the Chinese animation industry is now struggling to generate revenues at home while trying to expand its presence in the global marketplace. To understand the current challenges facing Chinese animators, it is critical to recognize the history of how a once-prosperous industry fell behind its American, European, and Japanese counterparts and strived to regain its footing with radical adjustments.

The Wan brothers: Purveyors of early animation

To talk about the beginnings of Chinese animation is to talk about the life stories of the Wan brothers — Chaochen 超塵, Dihuan 滌寰, Guchan 古蟾, and Laiming 籁鸣. Growing up in a family with no artistic background — their father was a businessman in Nanjing and their mother was a stay-at-home mother — the four brothers were mad about painting and shadow puppetry when they were boys, with American cartoon series like Popeye the Sailor Man and Betty Boop being the backdrop of their childhood. Continue reading

Expansive thinking sustains HK’s galleries

Source: NYT (5/21/21)
Expansive Thinking Sustains Hong Kong’s Independent Galleries
These experimental art spaces are offering mentorship programs, residencies and even health and dental insurance.
By Andrew Russeth

The exhibition space Précédée, on a busy stretch of the Yau Ma Tei neighborhood in Hong Kong .Credit…Précédée

One recent afternoon, the curator Cosmin Costinas was discussing the challenging past year from Para Site, the nonprofit gallery he leads on the 22nd floor of a building in the Quarry Point area of Hong Kong.

“When everything that we took for granted was upended,” he said in a video interview, his team asked: “Why should we survive as an institution? What are art institutions for in the first place?”

They thought about how Para Site could respond directly to the urgent moment. For art organizations “to really justify their presence,” said Mr. Costinas, the gallery’s curator and executive director, “they need to be embedded in the community.” Continue reading

Ancient relief sculpture brought alive

Source: China Daily (4/29/21)
Relief sculpture brought alive after millennium

Actors hold live performance presenting the image of a relief sculpture dating back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan province, on April 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Carved in Binyangzhong Cave, an imperial cave excavated in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), the relief sculpture Emperor and Empress Pay Respect for Buddha is a national treasure of great historical and cultural values.In the 1930s, the sculpture was stolen and taken abroad in pieces. “We hope to resurrect this work through many forms, and this live-action performance is one of them. It took nearly three months to prepare,” Dan Gao, researcher of Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, said.

In order to restore the images on the relief, the research team collected literature and pictures, and studied the character’s makeup and hair, costumes, props and movements one by one.

Apart from the actors for the emperor and empress, most of the 40-plus cast members are young people born after 2000. Continue reading

NFTs in the PRC

Source: SupChina (4/26/21)
NFTs in the P.R.C. — crypto art craze comes to China
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, took the international art world by storm in March after the sale of a piece of digital art for nearly $70 million. The Chinese art world and China’s many cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are taking note.
By Frida Qi

chinese nft art

NFT artwork by jinxiaoyao: City glimmer 9772A (城市微光9772A), which is currently selling on BlockCreateArt for 0.88 Ethereum, about $2,142 as of April 26, 2021.

Crypto art in the form of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, took the international art world by storm in March after the sale of a piece of digital art by 250-year-old British auction house Christie’s for nearly $70 million. The Chinese art world and China’s many cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are taking note.

China has a crypto art market too: Hundreds of WeChat groups are now dedicated to the art form, and Weibo is flooded with explanatory videos that garner millions of views.

Can Chinese crypto art ‘break the circle’

Diana Tang, the founder of CryptoC, an NFT community in China, got into the NFT scene in 2019 when she was the editor-in-chief of a Chinese crypto publication. Back then, she recalled the popularity of CryptoPunks, a collection of 10,000 miniature cartoon avatar heads. The cartoons, like all NFTs, could be officially owned by a single person online through the Ethereum blockchain. At first, individual members of the crypto community could claim them for free. Later, she told SupChina, one avatar got sold for $800. Now, the same one can sell for millions of dollars. (Example: Punk #2212, a female with blue eye shadow, now costs $42,459.03.) Continue reading

The Museum Victoria City brings colonial history to life

Source: SCMP (5/3/21)
Hong Kong’s colonial history brought to life at The Museum Victoria City with avid collector’s authentic and reimagined artefacts
Collector and founder of The Museum Victoria City, Bryan Ong has been interested in colonial memorabilia since he was 15 years old. His collection includes medals, military jackets, banknotes and hand-painted reproductions

Bryan Ong, founder of The Museum in Central, Hong Kong. Ong has amassed a collection of British colonial and military items. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Bryan Ong, founder of The Museum in Central, Hong Kong. Ong has amassed a collection of British colonial and military items. Photo: Jonathan Wong

The recently opened The Museum Victoria City in Central takes visitors down memory lane, with a mixture of authentic and re-interpreted nostalgic items from colonial Hong Kong.

There are red British military ceremonial jackets, embroidered badges with a lion and a dragon, a full body armour plate, the old “Murray Building” sign before it was turned into a hotel, and the old Urban Council logo.

There’s also a portrait of young Queen Elizabeth wearing a crown and yellow evening gown that looks like it could have hung in a government building up until June 30, 1997, except that it isn’t a British government-issued portrait – instead it’s one the Museum’s founder Bryan Ong Ye-hou had painted.

“The original portrait is in The Royal Gallery. The royal portraits that were in the [Hong Kong] government buildings were all copies,” he says. There are surviving old government copies but these have faded. So he and his team repainted the portrait, which required research into the garter and details of the jewellery she was wearing. Continue reading

Shanghai Biennale 2021

Source: SCMP (4/24/21)
Water-themed Shanghai Biennale feels diluted by satellite art shows away from the main venue
Irrigation, menstruation, immersion – Bodies of Water, the main exhibition at the 13th Shanghai Biennale, takes a wide-ranging view of its theme. The show is a great introduction to the work of younger, less well known artists

Quipu Menstrual (Shanghai) (2006/2021), by Cecilia Vicuña on show at the Power Station of Art as part of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, whose theme is water. Photo: Power Station of Art

Quipu Menstrual (Shanghai) (2006/2021), by Cecilia Vicuña on show at the Power Station of Art as part of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, whose theme is water. Photo: Power Station of Art

Pandemic-era biennales are bound to have detours and tributaries, like rivulets fanning across parched land when the rain arrives after a long drought.

The main exhibition of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, called “Bodies of Water”, has just opened at the Power Station of Art (PSA) after a near six-month delay. It is smaller than its recent predecessors and builds upon public forums held during the intended opening dates last November and an ongoing series of academic projects.

The biennale is also branching out by having satellite shows and interventions across the city, and an app to take people on guided tours of Shanghai’s waterways. As a result, the main exhibition is left somewhat diluted, instead of making waves with its environmental theme of alliances built across species and nations. Continue reading

Manhua Modernity review

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (3/31/21)
Review: John A. Crespi, Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn (University of California Press, 2020) 198 pp.
By Jeremy E. Taylor

John A. Crespi’s Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn represents an important contribution to the study of print and visual cultures in mid-twentieth-century China. Given the prominence of Republican Shanghai in Crespi’s narrative, this book might also be seen as part of a broader attempt to re-assess the place of this city in the story of modern Chinese print and visual cultures—a trend that is evident in other recent monographs, such as Pedith Chan’s The Making of a Modern Art World (2017) and Paul Bevan’s “Intoxicating Shanghai:” An Urban Montage (2020). Like such scholarship, Crespi’s book challenges what he refers to as the “anti-urban bias” (27) inherent in some earlier work in the field. Yet Manhua Modernity goes much further than this, providing a new set of methodologies for “horizontally reading” pictorial magazines. Indeed, Crespi should be congratulated for his methodological and conceptual ambition, for he seeks not simply to re-assess the evolution of manhua per se, but also to demonstrate the potential contribution of such a re-assessment to fields such as “pictorial studies” and visual cultures. Manhua Modernity contextualizes the manhua form (even as it takes issue with some of the existing literature on the topic) and updates an earlier fascination with images as stand-alone objects. Crespi’s approach also helps to free the history of manhua from a “nation-centered narrative” (34), as per Bi Keguan’s much cited work on the topic and seeks to bring the very notion of “manhua”—a term that Crespi refuses to italicize—into the mainstream of Chinese cultural history. Continue reading

HK targets art deemed critical of China

Source: NYT (3/26/21)
‘Insult to the Country’: Hong Kong Targets Art Deemed Critical of China
Pro-Beijing lawmakers have called for work by the dissident artist Ai Weiwei to be removed from a new museum, and accused local arts groups of undermining national security.
By Vivian Wang

The M+ museum in Hong Kong is expected to open later this year, but it is already facing criticism from pro-Beijing lawmakers and newspapers for including works by dissident artists in its collection. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — With its multibillion-dollar price tag and big-name artists, M+, the museum rising on Victoria Harbor, was meant to embody Hong Kong’s ambitions of becoming a global cultural hub. It was to be the city’s first world-class art museum, proof that Hong Kong could do high culture just as well as finance.

It may instead become the symbol of how the Chinese Communist Party is muzzling Hong Kong’s art world.

In recent days, the museum, which is scheduled to open later this year, has come under fierce attack from the city’s pro-Beijing politicians. State-owned newspapers have denounced the museum’s collection, which houses important works of contemporary Chinese art, including some by the dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Hong Kong’s chief executive has promised to be on “full alert” after a lawmaker called some works an “insult to the country.”

The arts sector broadly has endured a blizzard of attacks. A government funding body said last week that it has the power to end grants to artists who promoted “overthrowing” the authorities. A front-page editorial in a pro-Beijing newspaper accused six art groups of “anti-government” activities. Continue reading

Curator of Asian Art position

Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art, Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is hiring a curator of Asian Art. This is an exciting opportunity for an Asian art curator to work with a large and distinguished collection that ranges from antiquity to contemporary, and spans the entire Asian continent. The Chinese art collection is particularly strong, and expertise in Chinese art is necessary. The Denver Art Museum is a destination museum – it welcomes more than half a million visitors annually (pre-COVID, and virtually during 2020) — and it is situated in a city that offers robust cultural amenities and great outdoor activities. It is also committed to serving multi-faceted audiences. It has a world-renowned education program and its website is fully bilingual English/Spanish. The job announcement can be seen on the retained search consultant’s website, The deadline for applications is soon: March 26, 2021. Inquiries welcome at


Connie Rosemont
Senior Search Consultant
Museum Search & Reference

Taiwan Arts program administrator position

The University of Washington is looking for a Taiwan Arts Program Administrator to design and direct a new Taiwan Arts Program. As part of our new MOFA grant, the new Taiwan Arts Program under the Taiwan Studies Program will offer national events open to the public focused on Taiwan arts and culture. We define arts and culture broadly, including high culture, popular culture, folk culture, cultural history, indigenous culture and contemporary cultural movements in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Arts Program Administrator will have an opportunity to direct and grow an ambitious new initiative at the intersection of contemporary culture, higher education, and academic studies of Taiwan.  The Administrator will be in charge of finding and engaging culture partners, such as film directors, literary authors, and dance troupes to perform or speak for US audiences, and will have significant ability to shape the program.

As part of the role, the Program Administrator will also offer one academic course on Taiwan per year on an arts or humanities field.  This could include, for example, literature, poetry, cultural studies, art history, performance studies, film and media studies, cultural anthropology, etc.  The ideal candidate will have academic training, preferably a PhD in one of these fields.

The position will remain open until filled.  For more details and to apply, please see the job listing in UW Human Resources.

Trump as you’ve never seen him before (1)

Interesting piece. Two supplements are needed, though.

1.Some of the attraction to Trump in China comes because, not in spite of, his readiness to oppose Beijing.

2.Countless images of Mao were produced less because he was “an artistic muse” than because he was Chairman of the Communist Party of China.

Perry Link <>

Trump as you’ve never seen him before

Source: NYT (3/12/21)
Trump as You’ve Never Seen Him Before
A furniture maker and decorator in China created a stir — and inspired copycats — by casting a ceramic sculpture of the former president in a meditative pose that evokes the Buddha.
By Steven Lee Myers

A cast of “Trump, the Buddha of Knowing of the Western Paradise,” by the Chinese sculptor Hong Jinshi. The artwork, as well as countless imitations, can be purchased on the e-commerce site Taobao. Credit…Xiaoya

There is no shortage of merchandise in China devoted to the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. There are commemorative coinstoilet brushes and cat toys; countless figurines, including updated versions of Mount Rushmore, plus all those flags, bumper stickers and hats from campaigns past and future. (Does anyone still believe all that “Make America Great Again” stuff was really made in America?)

Enter the Trump Buddha.

A furniture maker and decorator in southern China has cast a sculpture of Mr. Trump in ceramic whiteware, his legs crossed and hands serenely resting in his lap. He is draped in a monk’s robes, his head is lowered and his eyes are closed, as if in meditative repose, an emotional state not typically associated with the 45th president of the United States.

The artist calls it “Trump, the Buddha of Knowing of the Western Paradise.” Continue reading