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Transcultural Visualities – Global Asian Art

Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
Venue: James Cohan Gallery
197号 Yueyang Road
Shanghai, Shanghai 200030 China
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Add to Calendar 07/09/2013 10:00 AM 07/10/2013 03:00 PM America/New_York Transcultural Visualities – Global Asian Art More detail: https://apa.nyu.edu/event/transcultural-visualities-global-asian-art-2/ James Cohan Gallery, Shanghai, Shanghai, 200030
Blue Sky Day: June 2012  Archival Pigment Ink Print,  © CYJO 2012
Blue Sky Day: June 2012
Archival Pigment Ink Print,
© CYJO 2012

This symposium kicks off an international inter-institutional effort to think through the space of Asian art within a global framework. It aims to examine art historical narratives, flows of images, artistic production, art markets, art activism, and the contextual framework of the Asian diasporic and inter-Asian art worlds on a comparative level. Part of a multi-year program taking place in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Wollongong, Washington, and New York, this symposium is part of a series workshops, studio visits, and other forms of engagement with art theory and practices that pertain to transculturalism, identity, memory, and place. With participation by an international roster of scholars, curators, artists, and other art professionals, ‘Transcultural Visualities – Global Asian Art’ engages the art community and the wider public through the lens of the discourse and artistic production that comes under the rubric of Asian art on a global level.

Co-convened by Alexandra Chang and Francesca Tarocco, the symposium is presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and NYU in Shanghai, in collaboration with James Cohan Gallery, Shanghai Studies Society, Leo Xu Projects, Aike Dellarco, and MABSOCIETY.

Participants include: Zheng Bo, Mathieu Borysevicz, Dean Chan, Alexandra Chang, CYJO, Dipti Desai, Simon Kirby, Jacqueline Lo, Tom Looser, Mark Johnson, Oscar Ho, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Arthur Solway, Francesca Tarocco, Frank Vigneron, Leo Xu, Jian-Jun Zhang, and many others.


Day 1


10AM — Welcome and introduction

10:30AM-12PM Panel I. Complex Identities, Time and Delayed Nostalgia 

Alexandra Chang, NYU — The Infinite Narrative: Asian Art “Now”

Zheng Bo, China Academy of Art — The Pursuit of Publicness: Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China

Francesca Tarocco, NYU Shanghai — Dharma Frames: Representations of Buddhism and Modernity

Jian Jun Zhang, NYU Shanghai — Artist presentation

Moderated by Jaqueline Lo, ANU Centre for European Studies

12-1:30PM  Lunch

1:30-3PM Panel II. Landscape of Global Markets

Mark Johnson, San Francisco State University — Asian American Art: Beyond the Marketplace

Mathieu Borysevicz, MABSOCIETY — Market Evolution and Global Perceptions

Arthur Solway, James Cohan Gallery — discussant

Simon Kirby, Victoria Mirò Gallery — discussant

Moderated by Alexandra Chang, NYU

3PM End of public session

(This portion of the program is closed to the public)

3:30PM — Visit to the Rockbund Art Museum
Exhibition From Gesture to Language

5PM A tour of the exhibition LAOWAI, Allegorist-Antagonist curated by Mathieu Borysevicz in tandem to the symposium Transcultural Visibilities: Global Asian Art. LAOWAI opens at MABSOCIETY’s new curatorial studio BANK at Xianggung Lu, No. 59, Suite 101. Laowai is a Chinese colloquial term for ‘foreigner’ or simply those who are not Chinese. All of the works presented in this exhibition have been produced by laowai within the geographical territory and/or ideological framework of China. The exhibition explores what exactly is Chinese about art produced in China. Can a laowai make Chinese Art? Is Chinese-ness a shared condition, a visual language, a set of iconographic signifiers, a particular gamut of subject matter, or something more profound? In an age of unprecedented inter-connectedness and multi-culturalism, what is left of territorial claims? How does the discourse of multi-culturalism or trans-culturalism pertain to the laowai artist in China?

Participating artists: Alexander Brandt, Caspar Stracke, Giralomo Marri, Heidi Voet, Issac Julian, Marc Lafia, Mathieu Borysevicz, Maya Kramer, Patty Chang and David Kelley, and Rainer Ghanal.

7PM  Symposium Participants’ Dinner

Day 2


10AM — Welcome

10:30AM-12PM Panel I: Migrations and Movement: Global Activism 

Dipti Desai, NYU — Cartography of Asian and Asian Diasporic Art Activism

Frank Vigneron, Chinese University — Socially-Engaged Art Practices in Hong Kong

Jacqueline Lo, Australian National University — Fiona Tan: The Art of a Professional Foreigner

CYJO — artist presentation

Moderated by Dean Chan, International Network for Diasporic Asian Art Research

12-1:30PM — Lunch

1:30-3PM Panel II: Envisioning the Asian Global City

Oscar Ho, Chinese University of Hong Kong — The Difficulties of Being Local

Tom Looser, NYU — Global Asian Post-Cities and the Ecology of Art

Leo Xu, Leo Xu Projects — Raw Materials: Visual Art in Shanghai since 2000

Moderated by Francesca Tarocco, NYU

3PM — Symposium comments: Nicholas Mirzoeff, NYU

3:15PM — End of public program

(This portion of the program is closed to the public)

A pecha kucha and talk on the contemporary practice of image-making
With artists Guo Hongwei, Chen Wei, Birdhead, and Leo Xu
Curated by Leo Xu at Leo Xu Projects

The session invites artists and curators to address the nature and definition of photography within today’s context of new media and new social engagement. Among young Chinese artists who work in either painting or photography, there has emerged a new interest in and understanding of photography which no longer provides solely the raw or prepatory materials for paintings and three dimensional works, or the representation of objects, but also extends to a new territory where other disciplines can meet and merge. The session will focus on how much the Internet and digital media have reshaped the idea of picture.

 5PM — Final Remarks with Francesca Tarocco, and Alexandra Chang

 5:30PM Reception at James Cohan Gallery


Logos 7.9

With support by the NYU Global Research Initiative, Shanghai Studies Society, James Cohan Gallery, Leo Xu Projects, Aike Dellarco, and MABSOCIETY.


Zheng Bo, The Pursuit of Publicness: Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China
In this talk, Bo Zheng discusses China’s socially engaged art, a vibrant field of practice often ignored by the market and worried by the state. He connects recent projects to the 1979 Stars event, and demonstrates that the pursuit of publicness has always been a critical force motivating the development of Chinese contemporary art.

Zheng Bo is an Assistant Professor at China Academy of Art. He holds a PhD in Visual & Cultural Studies from University of Rochester, and serves in the editorial board of Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. His research focuses on socially engaged art.

Mathieu Borysevicz, Market Evolution and Global Perception
Mathieu Borysevicz, founder of MABSOCIETY, a curatorial and consultancy studio based in Shanghai, has played many roles in the contemporary arts of China since 1994. As an artist, curator, critic, documenter and dealer, he has seen the total transformation of the dynamic within China and internationally. He will discuss his varied experiences in market evolution, global perception and possibilities of a scene that is truly engaged in a global discourse.

Mathieu Borysevicz splits his time between Shanghai and NYC. Besides being ART FORUM International’s former editor in Shanghai, his writings have frequently appeared in Art in America, Tema Celeste, ART REVIEW, ARTAsia Pacific, Modern Painters, LEAP, and Yishu Journal. Several of his essays are featured in Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium as well as many exhibition catalogs and compilations. Borysevicz’s book, Learning from Hangzhou, a semiotic analysis of urbanization in Hangzhou, China was chosen by the New York Times as one of the “Best Architectural Books of 2009” and given the prestigious DAM (Deutsches Architekturmuseum) Book Commendation in Frankfurt.

Borysevicz has also curated and consulted for numerous international venues and collections including Asia Society, MoMA NY, APERTURE, Walker Art Center, Mass MoCA, and DDM Warehouse, Shanghai. Borysevicz’s photo and video based artworks have been shown at venues such as ICA, London; the Bauhaus, Dessau; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Mass MoCA; The Bronx Museum, NY; Center for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona; The Storefront for Art and Architecture, NY; Tribeca Film Festival, Israeli Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Today Museum of Modern Art, Beijing, among others.



Dean Chan, Moderator
Dean Chan is Senior Lecturer in Visualisation and Digital Media in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, and Research Advisor in the School of Design and Art, at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. He is the founding Convenor of the International Network for Diasporic Asian Art Research (INDAAR) (http://indaar.wordpress.com/) and Associate Editor of Studies in Comics (Intellect Journals UK). His research interests focus on digital media (specifically, gaming and connective media) and visual culture (specifically, contemporary art and comics) in the Asia-Pacific region, concentrating on East Asian and diasporic Asian issues. Recent publications include the co-edited book Gaming Cultures and Place in Asia-Pacific (Routledge, 2009) and co-edited special issues of Amerasia Journal (2010) on “Asian Australia and Asian America: Making Transnational Connections” and Third Text (2014) on “The Transnational Turn: East Asian Mobility.”


Alexandra Chang, The Infinite Narrative: Asian Art “Now”
Chang explores the implications of a joined art history within the long durée narrative of a global and local art history in relation to an Asian art history involving the flows of artists and art objects. By establishing what a multi-sited translocal and transcultural view of transnational artists’ works may look like in a possible art historical canon that allows for such near infinite possibilities of narrative, the ways in which artistic production provide a view into the workings of both the nation-state constructs of the local and global art historical narrative is brought forth and the much-used lexicon of “East Meets West” and “in-between” are seen to be over-simplified in the process. This paper suggests an art history in terms of artistic production and the global and how one might begin to conceive of such nearly infinite multivalent contextualisations concerning composited imaginations involving past histories of the contemporary “Now,” artistic processes, and future potentialities and inevitabilities with a “Now” that is also necessarily in the constant state of arrival.

Alexandra Chang is the Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programs at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, where she is the director of the NYU Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange. She is a writer, scholar and independent curator. She is also the co-organizer of the Diasporic Asian Art Network (DAAN) and serves on the executive committee of the International Network for Diasporic Asian Art Research (INDAAR). Chang is co-organizer of the East Coast Asian American Art Project (ECAAAP), an inter-institutional art, archives and digital humanities project, including the Virtual Asian American Art Museum Project (VAAAMP). She is the author of Envisioning Diaspora: Asian American Visual Art Collectives from Godzilla, Godzookie, to the Barnstormers (2008).


CYJO, Artist Presentation
CYJO will be discussing international and domestic migration as well as the effects of migration through three of her projects, KYOPO, Substructure and Blue Sky Day. KYOPO, a photographic and textual project elucidates the evolution of individual and culture through the Korean Diaspora. Substructure, is a photographic and video project that profiles 50 Chinese internal migrants and their beneficial impact towards China’s rapid development. And Blue Sky Day is a portrait of industrialization, which analyzes color fields of the sky in relationship to air pollution index readings.

CYJO is a Korean American fine art photographer, born 1974 in Seoul, who immigrated to the US in 1975. She is most known for her KYOPO Project, a photographic and textual project about immigration and identity through the lens of the Korean ancestry. Over 200 people, mostly Americans, explore their relationships with their ancestral culture and the other cultures they embody through citizenship or through life experiences. Her first major work produced in China, Substructure, is a photographic, textual and video portrait series documenting 50 Chinese migrants in Beijing. For the past few years, CYJO has been traveling back and forth to Asia and the West focusing on a body of work that examines personal experiences and sometimes contradicting perspectives of eastern and western culture.
CYJO’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., Asia Society Texas Center Museum, Houston, JANM Museum, Los Angeles, T. Art Center, Beijing, Liang Dian Design Center, Beijing, China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts, Beijing, The Art Atrium, London and The Korea Society, New York. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and broadcast including A+A Magazine, Conveyor Magazine, ELLE Korea, Eloquence Magazine, Global Times, La Journal De La Photographie, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, Vision Magazine, CBS News and PBS Sunday Arts News. She has lectured at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Asia Society Texas Center Museum, The Korea Society, Miami University, San Francisco State University, NYU APA, Oversees Korean Foundation and The Ruben Museum of Art.


Dipti Desai, Cartography of Asian and Asian Diasporic Art Activism
In these times of perpetual war, environmental and financial crisis, increased border controls in times of mass movement of people, increased incarceration of marginalized groups, and rapid urbanization the border between art and activism is continually evolving. This presentation begins to map the different forms of art activism in Asia and the Asian diaspora. What approaches to civic engagement are Asian and Asian diasporic artists employing?  How do they integrate art and politics? Does the context shape the form artistic activism takes in the different countries?

Dipti Desai is an Associate Professor and Director of the graduate program art education at New York University. She has extensive experience teaching students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds at the elementary and middle school level in the United States, India, and New Zealand. As a scholar and artist-educator she is committed to addressing the formative role of visual representation and its politics in order to affect social change. She has published widely in the area of critical multiculturalism/ critical race theory in art education, contemporary art as a pedagogical site, and critical pedagogy and been on the editorial board of several journals, including senior editor of the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education.  Her co-authored book History as Art, Art as History: Contemporary Art and Social Studies Education received an Honorable mention for Curriculum Practice Category by Division B of American Education and Research Association (AERA) and she has received the Ziegfield Service Award for contribution to International Art Education.


Jian-Jun Zhang, Artist presentation

Jian-Jun Zhang, born in Shanghai, has been working and living in New York and Shanghai for more than 2 decades. His work reflects his personal life experience to combine and create a dialog between Chinese and Western cultures. His work always focusses on time, represented by flowing water, cultural objects, and historical events. He will talk about living in two cultures, and the affect this has on his artworks.


Mark Dean Johnson, Asian American Art: Beyond the Marketplace
After decades of almost total neglect, Asian American art has achieved a new level of visibility – as signaled by the recent flowering of multiple high profile exhibitions and publications of historical and contemporary Asian American art. In some cases, historical works of art by artists who were recently completely ignored by the canon now command prices of more than one million US dollars. Yet these artists and their art works are even more important than just their marketplace values because they provide us with evidence of generations of transcultural pioneers who were activists in articulating the significant role of Asianist culture in a global and transnational world.

It is important to develop a new understanding of Modernism that foregrounds the international achievement of artists who were interested in advancing Asianist aesthetics, including those who were active the Americas and Europe as well as in Asia. As an Asian American artistic achievement has become more clearly delineated, can we now write an alternative comparative global art history that incorporates this work alongside the art made by artists in Asia?

Mark Dean Johnson is Professor of Art and Gallery Director at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He has written extensively about Asian American art.  He is the Principal Editor and co-author of the reference anthology Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (2008: Stanford University Press), and was co-curator of the de Young Museum exhibition “Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970” as well as co-editor and co-author of the related catalog (2008: University of California Press). He is also the Principal Editor and co-author of catalogs accompanying SFSU exhibitions including “Chang Dai-chien in California” (1999) and “The Moment for Ink” (2013). He also authored catalog essays for many exhibitions, including several at the Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco, including “Dong Kingman in San Francisco” (2001) and “Martin Wong’s Utopia” (2004), as well as for museums in China including the Sichuan Museum in Chengdu (2012) and the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou (2013). He co-directed the Asian American Art Project at Stanford University; was the Director of the California Asian American Art Project, funded by the NEA; and he has lectured on this topic at institutions including the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, China Institute in New York, Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA, and at many colleges, universities and conferences across the United States.


Oscar Ho Hing-kay, The Difficulties of Being Local
The plan to build Museum Plus (M+) at the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong is one that attempts to move out of the confinement of the Western-centered definition of art and turns to local cultural achievement with a different perspective. Unfortunately the failure of an imbalanced cultural ecology inherited from the colonial days creates a gap that inevitably needs to be filled in by “overseas experts.” Without long time engagement and lack sensibility/capability of understanding local culture, these foreign experts fall into the conventional practice based on the “global” perspectives. The short fall becomes prominent when such mindset is confronted with the concept of M+, an art space which tries to create different vocabularies out of the colonial domination.

Increasingly there appears a potential danger that M+ would end up becoming just another museum of contemporary art, a M without the +. The desire to consolidate cultural self-recognition of the third world through a major cultural project remains unfulfilled. M+ would be a classic case in the studies of the Asian struggle and failure to establishing their own languages outside of Western-dominated “global” art world.

Oscar Ho Hing-kay was formerly the Exhibition Director of the Hong Kong Arts Centre and Founding Director of Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. He has curated extensively in locally in Hong Kong and internationally, including being guest curator for the 2nd and 3rd Asia Pacific Triennial at Queensland, Australia.

He is the founding member of the Asia Art Archive, founder of the Hong Kong chapter of the International Art Critics Association. He have written for local as well as international publications such as the Art Journal, Art in Asia Pacific, Art Forum and  Newsweek. He was a member of the International Committee for documenta 13, responsible for selecting its artistic director.

He is currently the director of the MA and BA Programs in Cultural Management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and was involved with the planning of the Central Policy Station Cultural District, as well as conceiving the new art space of “Museum Plus” at the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong.


Simon Kirby
Simon Kirby is a Contemporary Visual Art Specialist with over 25 years close engagement with China with 10 years working directly with artists in-country. He lives in Beijing where he acts as East Asia representative for leading London gallery Victoria Miro. Between 2009 and 2012 Kirby was Director of the Beijing space of leading dealership in Chinese contemporary Chambers Fine Art. From 2002-2009 Kirby was based out of Shanghai where he established “Artist Links China” for the British Council: an intensive artists’ exchange program between England and China.

Kirby regularly publishes on the cultural scene in China and a recent piece was nominated in the 2012 Amnesty International Media Awards. London based Index on Censorship recently re-issued Kirby’s 2008 interview with Ai Weiwei in its 40th anniversary issue listing it as one of the “ten most outstanding pieces” published by the magazine. Kirby is also active in curating exhibitions. In 2010, China arts portal Artron named his exhibition River Flows East – Landscapes of the Imagination “Best Group Show of the Year.”


Jacqueline Lo, Fiona Tan: The Art of a Professional Foreigner

While there is considerable political as well as academic attention focused on the impact of Islam in Europe, the role of Asians in Europe remains under-explored. Extant policy papers and scholarship tend to represent Asians, and especially the Chinese, as a model-minority. Despite the acknowledgement among the political and business elite of the rise of Asia, and the integral links between the fortunes of Europe with China in particular, there has not been a clearly articulated push eastwards in the manner resembling the U.S.’s “Asian pivot” nor Australia’s “Asian Century” positioning. This presentation will focus on selected works by the Netherlands-based artist, Fiona Tan, to explore how contemporary Asian European art responds to this politically charged and changing landscape.

Most discussions of Tan’s work focus on the artist’s migrant and mixed-race identity. Tan has an Indonesian–Chinese father and Anglo-Australian mother; she was born in Pekan Baru, Indonesia, spent her formative years in Melbourne, Australia and spent most of her adult life in the Netherlands. She is rarely described as “merely” a Dutch or European artist but rather designated as “a global citizen” whose works draw “critical connections between these places and their cultures.” More tellingly, her work is characterized as identitarian and “repeatedly exam[ining] her origins and the history of her ‘home countries.’” To a certain extent Tan has been complicit in the categorisation of her identity as a foreigner. In an early 1997 documentary aired on Dutch television entitled May You Live in Interesting Times, Tan travelled to across the world to interview her Chinese relatives in order to ascertain the question: “Family or culture: Which determined my identity more?” At the end of the film, she declares herself “a professional foreigner” for “self-definition seems impossibility, an identity defined only by what it is not.”

I contend that Tan’s self-proclaimed “professional foreigner” should not be read naively as an existential statement but rather a stance that is deeply engaged with the changing ethno-politico landscape in the Netherlands. The assertion of “professionalism” suggests a much more critical impulse that challenges orthodox conceptions of migrant citizenship. Deploying Rothberg and Yildiz’s concept of  “acts of citizenship,” I read Tan’s The Changeling (2006) and Provenance(2008) as politicised enactments of migrant agency in Europe.

Jacqueline Lo is Professor and Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for Interweaving Performance Cultures at the Free University of Berlin. Her research focuses on issues of race, colonialism, diaspora and the interaction of cultures and communities across ethnic, national and regional borders. Publications include Staging Nation (2002), Performance and Cosmopolitics (2007, with Helen Gilbert). She has edited a number of special journal issues including Amerasia “Making Transnational Connections”(2010) and special issue Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, focusing on German and Australian memory (2013). Jacqueline’s participation in the NYU Global Arts Exchange project is supported by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (DP 0880038). https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/lo-jml


Thomas Looser, Global Asian Post-Cities and the Ecology of Art
The global city is no longer a simple category. One might, for example, look to the emergence of non-city formations within cities as part of the differentiation of “global” spaces. This paper looks at some of these developments, especially within Asia (Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, elsewhere), and the ways in which they are grounded by—and helping to redefine—not only the idea of a city, but also the relations between social life, art and politics.

Tom Looser is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at NYU. His areas of research include cultural anthropology and Japanese studies; art, architecture and urban form; new media studies and animation; and critical theory. A senior editor for the journal Mechademia, he is the author of Visioning Eternity: Aesthetics, Politics, and History in the Early Modern Noh Theater, and has published articles in a number of venues including Japan ForumMechademiaShingenjitsuJournal of Pacific Asia, and Cultural Anthropology.

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Commentator
Nicholas Mirzoeff
is Professor of Media Culture and Communication at New York University. He is one of the founders of the academic discipline of visual culture in books like An Introduction to Visual Culture (1999/2009) and The Visual Culture Reader (1998/2002/2012). He is also Deputy Director of the International Association for Visual Culture and organized its first conference in 2012. His most recent book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011) won the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. He is currently working on expanding the project into a trilogy. The second part will deal with countervisuality in the global social movements of 2011, in which Mirzoeff was an active participant with Occupy Wall Street and Strike Debt. The concluding volume looks beyond the limits of visuality and visualizing to the possibilities of resonance, jubilee and mutual aid.


Arthur Solway, Discussant
Arthur Solway
has worked in the contemporary art world for over thirty-five years and is the founding director of James Cohan Gallery Shanghai, the first gallery from New York to establish itself in mainland China in 2008. Since opening the Shanghai branch, the gallery has exhibited a distinguished program of artists such as Richard Long, Alex Katz, Louise Bourgeois, Bill Viola, Yun Fei Ji, and Francesco Clemente. The gallery has also featured emerging artists from the region including Shi Zhiying, Wang Xieda, and Li Wenguang. He contributed the foreword to the catalogue raisonné Claes Oldenburg: Multiple in Retrospect, 1964-1990 (Rizzoli) and his writings on literature, art, and poetry have appeared in a handful of journals since 1978, most recently in The Antioch Review and Manifesto, with recent poems forthcoming in Salmagundi and The Boston Review. He lives in Shanghai with his wife and daughter.


Francesca Tarocco, Representations of Buddhism / Modernity
Buddhist-inspired visuality is ubiquitous in today’s world. Such an incredible profusion of images is not a new phenomenon, for image worship is central to Buddhist praxis. This paper focuses on the production of spectacularized images of Buddhism produced throughout the capitalist development of diasporic Chinese modernities (primarily in Shanghai, New York, Taipei, London, Paris, San Francisco, Bangkok and Hong Kong). It will examine works by artists from across different generations and locations as they reflect literally and metaphorically on fundamental themes of Chinese Buddhist iconography and ritual, including the relationship between religious merit-making (gongde) and image making, the use of calligraphy and writing as religious practice, ideas of image consecration, relics, and the ritual use of objects like incense, flowers, water and candles as sites invoking a “reworking of the imaginary” for contemporary artists.

Francesca Tarocco is a scholar, writer and critic based in Shanghai, where she teaches Chinese contemporary art and new media and Chinese art history and culture at New York University in Shanghai. She is the author of The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism: Attuning the Dharma (Routledge, 2007 and 2011) and of the catalogue Hide and Seek (Ultracontemporary 2009). She has co-authored two other books: Karaoke: The Global Phenomenon (Chicago University Press, 2007) and Made in China (Mondadori, 2008) and numerous articles and essays. Her current book/exhibition project entitled The Re-enchantment of  Modernity: Photography and Buddhism in China aims to complicate received narratives on the representation of the body and of ritual practices outside of the Euro/American context.

Francesca is one of the founders of the Shanghai Studies Society, an international multi-disciplinary research initiative based in Shanghai.

For the past fifteen years, Francesca has advised and collaborated with museums and other institutions, including, among others, the European Union, the British Council, Artists Link, Tate Modern, The Sainsbury Institute, The European Association for Chinese Music Research, the British Museum, ArtHub Asia (http://arthubasia.org/), Fantom Photographic Magazine, and many others. She also collaborates with Shanghai-based artists and other practitioners.


Frank Vigneron, Socially-Engaged Art Practices in Hong Kong

Following the idea of socially-engaged art practices as dissensus formulated by Jacques Rancière, and considering it in the context of the idea of universal education he analyzed in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, this paper looks at different ways to introduce contemporary art practices to a public not prepared to appreciate them. Several art events organized in Hong Kong over the last few years, and analyzed as either tactic or strategy (following Michel de Certeau’s classification), will be presented in order to understand how they can function as a way to the public’s emancipation aesthetically and, sometimes, even politically.

Professor Vigneron received a PhD in Chinese Art History from the Paris VII University, a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Paris IV Sorbonne University and a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1990 and joined the Department of Fine Arts, CUHK in 2004, teaching courses on the History of Western Art, the theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in art, and Chinese and Western comparative aesthetics. His research focus is on the history of Chinese painting from the 18th century onwards and on different aspects of contemporary Chinese art in a global context. In 2010, he also became Chair of the Hong Kong Art School Academic Committee as well as a member of the Hong Kong Art School Council. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics Hong Kong.


Leo Xu

Leo Xu is a curator and writer based in Shanghai. Xu is the founder and director of LEO XU PROJECTS, an internationally known gallery specializing in Chinese and International contemporary art. He was the associate director at James Cohan Gallery, Shanghai from 2009 to 2011, before founding his space Leo Xu Projects in Shanghai in 2011. He was the director of Chambers Fine Art in Beijing between 2007 and 2009. Prior to that, he worked as curator at Zhu Qizhan Art Museum and assistant curator at Duolun Museum of Modern Art, both in Shanghai.

Xu is responsible for many exhibitions and projects that took place in Mainland China and abroad. Xu’s curatorial strength is in the new media and the inter-disciplinary, and his research covers the youth cultures and queer cultures in the visual art and its representation. His recent curatorial endeavors include video art exhibition “The Tell-tale Heart,” (2010) “Alex: A Tribute to Alexander McQueen” (2010-2011) and “Boy: A Contemporary Portrait” (2012), which re-investigates the cultures and sub-cultures that define young men in the first decade of 21st century. His curatorial collaboration with artist Michael Lin and Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai “Model Home: A Proposition of Michael Lin” continues his recent study of urbanism and converts the exhibition into an open laboratory with artists, architects, musicians, professors, curators and construction labors.

A critic of contemporary art, Xu writes extensively for many publications and journals, such as Harper’s Bazaar, L’offciel Homme, Numero, Leap, Art China, Art World, Modern Weekly, Oriental Morning, among many others.