Rethinking Collective: Mapping on the Development of Woodblock Printing Collectives in Inter-Asian Context

Title: 1048 | Rethinking Collective: Mapping on the Development of Woodblock Printing Collectives in Inter-Asian Context
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Krystie Ng, National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan (organizer, presenter)
Chun Fung Lee, Zurich University of the Arts ( Switzerland) and National Chiao-Tung University (Taiwan) (presenter, discussant)
Ai Kano, Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan (presenter, chair)
Ding Li, Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) and National Chiao-Tung University (Taiwan) (presenter)


The development of contemporary woodblock printing collectives in Asia is different from artworks that serve the institutions, market or personal collections, to a certain extent it can be regarded as the “alternative narrative” of our time. As the Inter-Asia affiliations have taken place across East Asia and Southeast Asia, they formed a self-organized network among these collectives, which not only have aroused concern about the deprivation of the underprivileged, but also underscored the artistic stance of co-production. Other than the mainstream individualistic aesthetic mode of production, such collaborative art-making envisions “politics” through art.

In this panel, we attempt to map the trajectory of self-organized woodcut collectives, and discuss on the possibility for contemporary art practitioners and local people to establish a network that maintains both localized and trans-border dimensions. The practice of these collectives accentuates the participatory process based on ethical principles – equity among participants, respect for differences and democratic decision-making – and hence rethinks “autonomy”. More importantly, we hope to contextualize these empirical cases in the framework of globalization and neoliberalism to rethink the political significance of contemporary collective production. Indeed, the cases of woodblock printing collective are yet to be simply marked as a return to collectivism. The politics of collaborative art have to be scrutinized under the micro-perspective as well as the macro one, in other words, the historical and socio-political conditions.

Through case studies in our articles and network mapping, we hope to henceforth deliberate on “an alternative route” of the Inter-Asia autonomous cultural network.

Panel Abstracts:
Collaboration or Social Mobilization?: The Historical Context of Gotong-Royong and Its Politics
In the past decades, the practices of "participation" as well as "collaboration" are getting more and more popular in contemporary art scene. We have also seen some artist collectives, activists and community-related events use "gotong-royong" to call for participation in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.The term "gotong-royong" is a traditional phrase commonly seen in Nusantara, it is generally understood and practiced as a system of mutual aid originated from the tradition of communitarian. This reciprocity usually stirs up from the sense of belonging within a community, or the obligation for communal service, but the means of production is usually altered when it is mobilized on a top-down basis. In fact, gotong-royong was mobilized by different politicians in order to sustained their political regimes throughout the history on the Malay Archipelago, to name a few the Culture System by Dutch, Tonarigumi System of the Japanese, kerja bakti by Suharto, Gotong-Royong Cabinet of Megawati Sukarnoputri, RELA and the Rukun Tetangga Act etc.This article seeks to review the historical development of gotong-royong in order to understand the political agency it constructs, as well as the power relations lie behind the edification.Keywords: gotong-royong, mutual aid, collaboration, social mobilization, top-down policy

The Dynamic of Trans-local Cultural Activism Network in East Asia: A Study of "NO LIMIT Tokyo Autonomous Zone"
"NO LIMIT Tokyo Autonomous Zone" (NO LIMIT東京自治區), is a self-organized festival of cultural activism took place in September 2016 in Tokyo. It is a platform opened for artists, musicians and activists across East Asia, to provide a chance to exchange and networking. It includes events ranging from exhibition, music gigs, screening, talk, workshop, march, party... etc.This research aims to study the linkages and interaction of the cultural activist groups who participated in this festival and how the trans-local network is built across East Asia. Under the context of trans-local solidarity movement in parallel to the logic of global capitalism since the early 2000s in East Asia, I would like to discuss the notion of "autonomy" in this cultural festival, hence what would be the heterogeneous values that these activists try to address? Keywords: cultural activism, autonomy, self-organization, trans-local solidarity, resistance

How to Sustain a DIY Artist Collective?: In the Case of A3BC
A3BC (Anti-War, Anti-Nuclear, and Arts Block-print Collective) is a group that collaboratively creates woodprints focusing on anti-war and anti-nuclear issues. It was officially founded in August 2014, Japan. This paper discusses how A3BC has sustained its activity from 2014, that nail on A3BC's collaborative method of art-making, especially as collectivism is the central principle in DIY punk culture.As woodblock printing has been used as a medium of past practices of art activism in Mexico, Germany, Russia, China and Japan, although modernistic values such as authorship and self-expression have been dominant in art world and citizen’s art creation was marginalized in art history at least in Japan. Nowadays, A3BC (which members mostly non art professionals) and some other woodblock print collectives have been introduced in art museums and reframe art activism of woodblock printing. For example, A3BC organized workshops, collaborated with other woodblock print collectives and conducted guerilla performances. Current woodblock print collectives become more relational and political who use woodblock printing as a communication tool.Meanwhile, some participants of A3BC start creating a new woodblock art collective in East Asia and the network of DIY culture has been expanded, regular members of A3BC has changed during these five years. My paper will examine several phases of regular members consisted of diverse occupations, backgrounds, nationalities as a unique art collective and how A3BC continues activity to pay attention to gender equality and works with diverse people around the world.Keywords: artist collective, woodblock printing, social activism, DIY culture, diversity

Transformation in the Image of "People": Rethink Chinese Modern Woodcut Printing in Historical Context
The expression of "people"(人民) who belongs to the nameless public is the most significant revolution in the 1930s Chinese woodcut printing. From the 1930s to the 1980s, following the history and social process, the figure of "people" experienced a multiple transformations in Chinese woodcut prints. Not only as a new historical subjectivity but the advance of "people" also represents the awakening of modern Chinese art. The sharp contrast of black and white images has already become a typical representative of popularization and revolutionary ideals. Thus, how does the woodcut printing become an art form that represents "people"?Furthermore, it is patently obvious that there are many contemporary Chinese artists around the 1980s conceiving woodcuts in their very own way, and whether intentionally or unwittingly, echoes the revolutionary aesthetics in the early modern woodcut movement. Then why this phenomenon still exists in contemporary Chinese artworks and what does the "people" mean to Chinese contemporary woodcut creation?This research will take the image of "people” as a clue, attempting to recall the era when woodcut was made into political propaganda from a retrospective perspective and rethink woodcut’s position in the context of Chinese modern art. Also, from the vantage point of collectivism, this article aims to facilitate dialogues in the realm of Inter-Asia woodcut network.Keywords: image of "people", modern woodcut printing, revolutionary, political propaganda, popularization

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 04 - Room 2

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