Undefining Chinese Contemporary Art
320 pp. | 9.5 × 6.5 | 10 color illus. and 172 halftones
What does it mean to say that some of the best Chinese contemporary art is made in America, by Americans? Through words and images, this book challenges the artificial and narrowly conceived definitions of Chinese contemporary art that dominate current discussion, revealing the great diversity of Chinese art today and showing just how complex and uncertain the labels “contemporary,” “Chinese,” and even “American” have become.
This volume features contributions from six artists and seven scholars who participated in a 2009 symposium held in conjunction with the Princeton University Art Museum exhibition Outside In: Chinese × American × Contemporary Art. Four of these artists are ethnically Chinese (some born in China, some in America), yet all are U.S. citizens. All of the artists are steeped in Chinese artistic traditions in terms of style, subject matter or philosophical outlook, and yet all of the works in the exhibition were made or conceived in the United States. Here they discuss their art and careers with rare depth and candor, addressing diversity, ethnicity, identity, and other issues. The academic contributors bring a variety of perspectives—Chinese and American, art historical and political—to bear on the common but limiting practice of classifying such art and artists as “Chinese,” “American,” or “Chinese American.” Revealing and celebrating the fluidity of who can be considered a Chinese artist and what Chinese art might be, these artists’ and scholars’ presentations broaden our understanding and appreciation of Chinese contemporary art.