Ephemeral but eternal traces of Asia in the artworld
(University of British Columbia)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on artists born in Asia who have moved between different countries and/or traditions. It explores how their fluency as 'cultural translators' in the global artworld is influenced by interactions between the dynamics of local and global, and of traditional and modern.
Paper long abstract:
Asian artists trained in the field of 'traditional' art—from Buddhist mural paintings to classical calligraphy—often struggle for recognition in the global artworld unless they incorporate 'modern' art elements into their work. At the same time, certain markers of 'ethnicity' or recognisable cultural icons—such as the Buddha or Asian scripts—have been common features in the artworks by internationally successful artists from Asia. This paper focuses on artists born in Asia who have moved between different countries and/or traditions, and explores how they have worked to deal with the issues of identity through and in their work. By reflecting on the experience of curating two exhibitions of works by artists with connections to Asia to different audiences in Argentina and Australia, the paper considers in what ways nomadic figures in the global artworld operate as 'cultural translators' who may act as local representatives and as transcultural agents. While competent in both source and target 'languages' of translation, the paper will examine how their fluency is influenced by movement and by interactions between the dynamics of local and global, and of traditional and modern.
Anthropology in the contemporary artworld