Modern Art Asia Issue 14 is now available
The theme of this issue is the use of subversion as an artistic strategy, and how this strategy might be inscribed on or performed through the body. Each of the artists featured addresses the limitations of normative paradigms, whether these be concerned with gender, social status, or economic development; through various acts of play, posturing, and overt challenges to authority. Their approach varies wildly, from Ai Wei Weiâ€™s campy outrage against Chinaâ€™s government, to Soyoung Leeâ€™s dignified use of meditation as an act of defiance. Some make their protest through their choice of media; others through overtly disruptive imagery; and others still through making and displaying their art on their own terms.
The issue opens with Kate Korrockâ€™s analysis of Chang Jiaâ€™s Standing up Peeing series. Chang Jia, a South Korean photographer, documents the feelings of compromise, jubilation or rebellion women experience in the act of pissing, upright, under the cameraâ€™s gaze. Minchih Sunâ€™s commentary on artist-led exhibition strategies in Taiwan continues this concern for challenging norms. In an art world dominated by prestige and celebrity, he examines how artists participating in the self-organised Crooked show deliberately positioned themselves and their practice against social norms, using contemporary Taiwanese production to revisit a well-established debate within art historical discourse: namely, whether art should have creative autonomy, or whether it is only ever determined by its context. Bansie Vasvaniâ€™s review of L.N.Tallurâ€™s recent New Yorked show reveals the artist again using traditions as a foil for the exploration of contemporary economic and socio-cultural concerns, while the playful, subversive, and upfront titles of both â€˜Crookedâ€™ and â€˜New Yorkedâ€™ make the artistsâ€™ intentions manifestly clear.
A latent theme of the issue is the portrayal of gender. Rhiannon Paget offers an authoritative review of the ongoing Women in Between exhibition, a touring show of work by Asian women artists. The wealth of diverse and accomplished exemplar on display makes an interrogation of why this doubly-marginalised group remains markedly absent from major museum collections extremely urgent. Meanwhile Ai Wei Wei gives us opportunity to reflect on a medium never before cited in these pages, the pop video, by exploring the heavy-handedness of Chinese police in an intriguing clip that concludes in him donning womenâ€™s clothing.
Soyoung Leeâ€™s Thousand Paths to NOW portfolio completes the issue, documenting her practice of sitting in meditation at various sites of cultural or political importance around the world. The image of Lee sitting impassively, against a line of heavily-armed riot police, is particularly haunting.
View the issue at modernartasia.com/category/issue-14