The 8th Para-curatorial Symposium
Curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Mia Yu
Contributing Speakers: Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu, Yongwoo Lee, Pan Lu, Seng Yu Jin, Shen Xin, Ming Tiampo, Abhijan Toto, Chương-Đài Võ, Emily Wilcox, and Ling Zhang
Exchanges of thought lines, images, and bodies across regions in Asia had existed prior to the colonial trade and were fostered by the trans-regional flow of materiality and labor before and during the Pacific War. At the peak of the nationalistic and modernist movements in the 20th century, Asian artists embarked on trips to study in Europe, Japan, and later in the United States, and demonstrated what Kobena Mercer called “syncretic vitalism,” which resulted in a multi-directional dissemination of ideas and forms. After World War II ended, an inter-Asia network of diplomats, thinkers, and artists ascended alongside the cultural events sanctioned by the young modern states, and constituted a floating constellation of shifting national borders. Such history and diverse routes of encounter within and beyond Asia have been heavily overshadowed by the ideology of the Cold War, which simplifies the interwoven processes as antagonistic camps.
In view of this, scholars, researchers, and artists have taken upon themselves to investigate and explore some of the correlated conceptions manifested in dance, film, popular culture, pedagogy, exhibition history, artistic movements, and individual cases. Examples include the didactics of realism and the abstraction of the political, the emerging individualism and the collective empowerment, “art for the people” and “art for art’s sake,” and so on. They are often driven by the antithetical forces of postcolonial modernity, among them the transnational solidarity and the imperialist hierarchy, the leftist imaginaries and the push for economic development, the Asian identification and the universalist discourse, the democratic movements and the rise of authoritarian regimes.
In this two-day symposium, ten speakers are invited to unfold their interrogations in four different panels: “Inter-Asia Networks: Connectivity and Circulation”; “Whose Asia? Whose Art?: New Collectivism and Internationalism in the Postwar Era”; “Between Singing Diva and Political Shaman: Femininity as a Critical Agent”; and “Storytellers on the Road: New Practices.” The historical and speculative perspectives of the assembly attempt to cast light on the porous processes of the cross-border exchanges and to complicate our understanding of the post-Cold War reality beyond the East-West dichotomy.
The Para-curatorial Series
The para-curatorial series is initiated by Guangdong Times Museum and Nikita Yingqian Cai, the chief curator of the museum, and is a discursive platform that aims at situating the critical mediation of art within a broader social, economic, and cultural context. The para- of “the curatorial” designates the multiplicity of curatorial practices as transdisciplinary forms of visual production and knowledge exchange, which challenge the politics of representation and paradigm of exhibition making. By activating such assemblies and encounters, the temporary institution becomes a mobile coalition of community center, laboratory, and academy. Past events of para-curatorial series include: No Ground Underneath: Curating on the Nexus of Changes (2012), Active Withdrawal: Weak Institutionalism and the Institutionalization of Art Practice (2013), Cultivate or Revolutionize? Life between Apartment and Farmland (2014), Between Knowing and Unknowing: Research in-and-through Art (2015), Reciprocal Encounters: The Enactment of Collecting and its Modes of Representation (2016), and In the Name of “Archive”: Re-imagining History as Contemporary Art Practice (2017) and South of the South: Rhetorics of Geography and Imageries of Delinking (2018).