Social movement, Crisis, and Circulations of Art in the Sinosphere

Title: 1218 | Social movement, Crisis, and Circulations of Art in the Sinosphere
Area: China and Inner Asia
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Roundtable
Jennifer Dorothy Lee, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, United States (organizer, discussant)
Darwin Tsen, Carthage College, United States (discussant)
Roy Chan, University of Oregon, United States (roundtable-chair)
Victoria Lupascu, University of Montreal, Canada (discussant)
Hongwei Thorn Chen, Tulane University, United States (discussant)


The "Freedom Summer" of 2019 was not Hong Kong’s alone. A movement of global proportions, it continues to spark waves of intellectual discourse that re-evaluate the relations between politics and aesthetics. From graffiti to post-it walls to Joker-esque face-paint, protest practices arising from this movement articulate collective demands for new polity, while forging citizens' expressions of selfhood and society through cultural formations that negotiate persistent entanglements with capital, political hegemony, and prevailing ideologies.

On the occasion of AAS-in-Asia’s 2020 meeting in Kobe, Japan, this Roundtable continues a dialogue addressing post-revolutionary culture in the Sinosphere initiated by Darwin Tsen (Carthage College) at ACLA 2016, and scheduled to continue in Chicago in 2021. The central problematic we take up is art’s relationship to politics as mediated through ongoing crises of capitalism, social movements, cultural formations and institutions. Each speaker addresses questions generated not only by the teeming energies and contradictions channeled through Hong Kong, but also the modern political and aesthetic histories of the Sinosphere.

Roundtable participants represent a diversity of cultural foci in China studies broadly writ. Opening the discussion, Roy Chan (University of Oregon) considers how the speakers’ examinations of the relation between art and social movements inherits and exceeds long-standing 20th-century Sinospheric debates on the aesthetic in modernity and revolution. Thorn Chen (Tulane University) addresses the boycott as both a practice of protest and a governing technique shaping the consensus over the “identity” of cinema as an institution amid the flows of goods, materials, and affects in a (semi-)colonial milieu. Jennifer D. Lee (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) examines the “anxiety aesthetic” structuring the reintroduction of abstraction into arts education in China through the language of radical materialism and metaphysics during the Beijing Spring. Examining graffiti art as a medium of social and cultural transformations in protests, Victoria Lupascu (Penn State University) addresses how it challenges spontaneous yet often orchestrated repurposing of urban spaces. With Taiwan’s 2014 Sunflower Movement, Darwin Tsen (Carthage College) discusses the need to curate mediative structures that allow the connections between artistic work, historical memories, and political visions to flourish.

This panel is on Thursday - Session 02 - Room 5

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