Pixel artist

Known as: Pixologist 
A pixel artist is a graphic designer who specializes in computer art and can refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus… (More)
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2017
2017
September 1, 2017, New Haven, Conn.— The Yale University Art Gallery is pleased to present Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss… (More)
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2017
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2017
In their article "Perspectives on Video Games as Art" Jeroen Bourgonjon, Geert Vndermeersche, and Kris Rutten engage in… (More)
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2016
2016
Traditional art is one of Nigerian cultural heritage. It is an excellent instrument for documentation and identification… (More)
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2015
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2015
In her article "Intermediality, Rewriting Histories and Identities in French Rap" Isabelle Marc Martínez analyzes aspects of… (More)
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2014
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2014
.................................................................................................................................................. 6 List of Figures ......................................................................................................................................... 7 Introduction to Dissertation ................................................................................................................ 12 Chapter 1. Asian Women in the USA: Representations in Popular Culture and Visual Art ....... 29 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 29 History and Context of Asian Women in the USA: The Evolving of Asian American Women ........... 30 Between “Lotus Blossom Baby” and “Dragon Lady”: Hypersexual Hollywood Representations of Asian Women ...................................................................................................................................... 35 Asian American Women in Hollywood: Anna May Wong and Lucy Liu ........................................... 38 Asian American Women in Visual Arts: Yoko Ono and Patty Chang ................................................ 46 Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................ 55 Chapter 2. “Reading the Body” and the Self: Representations of Race and Gender in the Artistic Strategies of Lorna Simpson and Nikki S. Lee .................................................................................. 57 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 57 Identity and Identity Politics: The Politics of Representation ............................................................ 58 Floating Signifiers: The Artistic Strategies of Lorna Simpson in the 1980s and 1990s .................... 60 Shifting Discourses: From Identity to Post-identity ........................................................................... 65 Performative Passing: The Artistic Strategies of Nikki S. Lee in her Projects Series ....................... 68 Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................ 75 Chapter 3. Identifying and Categorizing: Power, Knowledge, Truth and the Artistic Strategies of Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Fiona Tan ......................................................................................... 78 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 78 Anthropology: Colonialist Heritage and Ethnographic Displays ...................................................... 79 “Reverse Anthropology”: The Artistic Strategies of Guillermo Gómez-Peña ................................... 80 Anthropology and “Crisis of Representation” ................................................................................... 86 Interrogating ‘Objectivity’: The Artistic Strategies of Fiona Tan ..................................................... 88 Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................ 95 Chapter 4: Origin and Belonging: History and Dislocation in the Artistic Strategies of Yong Soon Min and Mona Hatoum .............................................................................................................. 98 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 98 Home and Belonging: Place, Planetarity, Diaspora .......................................................................... 99 Asian American: A Positional Framework ....................................................................................... 102 Retelling History: The Artistic Strategies of Yong Soon Min ........................................................... 104 Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 11 The Entire World as a Foreign Land: The Artistic Strategies of Mona Hatoum ............................. 112 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................... 119 Conclusion of Dissertation ................................................................................................................. 122 Visual Appendix .................................................................................................................................. 131 Projections (2007) ............................................................................................................................ 131 it ain’t where you’re from, its where you’re at: BE(COM)ING SWISS (2007-09) .......................... 133 Asian Faces of Switzerland: Fantasy and Reality (2012) ................................................................ 135 Exhibition “Death of a Butterfly”, 2013 .......................................................................................... 137 “Death of a Butterfly”: Un bel di vedremo (2013) .......................................................................... 139 “Death of a Butterfly”: Bleeding Butterfly (2013) ........................................................................... 140 “Death of a Butterfly”: Caligo (2013) ............................................................................................. 141 “Death of a Butterfly”: Self-Portrait with Butterfly (2013) ............................................................. 142 “Death of a Butterfly”: Historical Butterfly Boxes (2013) .............................................................. 143 Bibliography ........................................................................................................................................ 145 Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 12 Introduction to Dissertation As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I was born and grew up in suburban USA in the 1960s through the 1970s. A significant memory was the first time that I became aware that others saw me as ‘different’. I had started kindergarten in suburban Maryland and most of my classmates were ‘normal’ looking, either ‘white’ or ‘black’. There was, however, a strange-looking boy with black hair and slanted eyes that looked ‘different’ from the others. To my great consternation, all the other children thought the ‘weird boy’ and I were related or even twins, since we ‘looked exactly alike’. Although I could see that the boy was visibly different, I saw my family and myself as ‘normal’. I was shocked to find out that I was not. After this experience, I often wished that I had blue eyes and blonde hair and looked like the dolls and the Barbies that I owned. Eventually, I realized that there were other people who had similar stories, and I began to identify myself as an ‘Asian American’ or an American of ‘Asian’ descent. After I moved to Europe (Germany and later Switzerland) in the late 1980s, I was confronted with another cultural identification situation, especially with the innocent question “Where do you come from?” Upon hearing my answer “America”, the inevitable reaction was astonishment and the second question “But where do you really come from?” which I found difficult to answer. Many Germans and Swiss seemed more interested in the place of my ethnic origin and often believed that because of my Chinese heritage, my mother language must be Chinese. They were surprised to hear that it was not, and even commented on the difficulty in differentiating between the various Asian ethnicities: “I never can tell the difference between Chinese or Japanese, can you?” Although these comments and questions occur less frequently than before, it still appears to be unusual for someone who looks like me to be ‘from’ America. Consequently, after I began to study photography in Switzerland in the mid-1990s, I often chose to explore my autobiography and my Asian diasporic background in my artwork. I attempted to communicate the double-sided feelings I had to my family’s search for tradition and an ‘American identity’. For example, I made two artworks that used old family photographs from Christmas. Christmas was, for my family, the ultimate holiday to document their successful new living standards by photographing our smiling faces next to large quantities of wrapped presents or with a roasted turkey. In fact, the act of posing and smiling in front of various Christmas decorations while waiting for the self-timer are part of my earliest memories of Christmas. 1 In this dissertation, ‘Asian’ will be used in the US American colloquial sense to refer to a person of East Asian descent (e.g. China, Japan, Korea, etc.) or Southeast Asian descent (e.g. Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, etc.). I am aware that in Britain ‘Asian’ usually refers to someone from South Asia (e.g. India, Pakistan, etc.). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 13 In time, I realized that my artistic practice which focused on my Chinese immigrant family, my body, or representations of myself were an exploration about various ideas of Otherness. Furthermore, I became aware of other artists who were examining comparable themes about origin, belonging, and difference in their work and that these artists often had mixed cultural backgrounds analogous to mine. In addition, I began to reflect on various social and cultural theories including post-colonialism or Asian American studies. Throughout my Swiss art photography education (1994-1998), theory was limited and references to post-colonial discourse were completely absent. Even now, these discussions are unusual in contemporary Swiss art and cultural discourses as these themes seem irrelevant because of Switzerland’s historically passive role in colonialist activities. Thus, to a certain extent, this dissertation is the product of my personal reflections about these themes which I hope can extend my own artistic practice in the future. The research from this study has emerged from my interest in exploring various strategic approaches used to make visual art which both questions culturally constructed meanings of difference and reveals the cultural and historical processes and experiences involved in viewing and understanding art. In this introduction, I first present some background information about the demographics of Chinese migration to Europe in order to establish the increasing importance of investigations about cultural representations of Chinese or other East Asians in Europe. In addition, I include a few key references to theoretical concepts about the Other and related subjectivities as well as their connection to ideas about identity in various discourses such as post-colonialism, feminism and cultural studies. A comparative research method offers new perspectives by reviewing similarities and differences of specific examples. Thus, my methodology is to explore specific themes of Otherness through a comparison of women artists of Asian diasporic backgrounds with other American or European artists from various cultural backgrounds using a proposed set of categories. Finally, I provide an overview of the dissertation structure and the four main chapters. In this way, I hope that this research, which developed from my own personal interest and experiences, can contribute to enhancing the recognition of the significance of artistic practice in culture and society. Currently available demographic data about migration to Europe indicate that there are growing numbers of ethnic Chinese who, similar to me, are not ‘from China’. Various statistics have shown increasing migratory flows of Chinese to Europe since the 1980s that have resulted in new communities of ‘overseas Chinese’. The Chinese history scholar Gregor Benton argues in his article “The Chinese in Europe: Origins and Transformations” that a main reason for this demographic shift was the liberalization of travel policies for Chinese citizens after Mao’s death in 1978 (64). According 2 Originally a Chinese expression, ‘overseas Chinese’ refers to people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside of China or Taiwan. See Elena Barabantseva’s book Overseas Chinese, Ethnic Minorities, and Nationalism (2011). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 14 to the 2011 census data about overseas Chinese populations, an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Chinese live in Europe with the largest populations in France (estimated 440,000) and the UK (estimated 400,000). In the UK, this group is identified as ‘British Chinese’ and has increased from 0.4% to 0.7% of the total population since 2001. In comparison, only an estimated 90,000 overseas Chinese reside in Germany whereas Switzerland is not even listed. Using Swiss demographic data between 1980 and 2012, an increase from 0.018% to 0.044% of the total resident population from East Asian or Southeast Asian countries is apparent but still does not compare to the statistics in France or the UK. Thus, despite increased numbers of Asians in certain areas of Europe, an awareness of issues related to overseas Chinese or other East Asians in Switzerland is still quite unusual and not often explored in the Swiss art context. Nevertheless, despite the growing presence of overseas Chinese, Benton notes: “Chinese outside of China have always suffered ethnic stereotyping” (64). For example, he states that although the Chinese are “scarcely less diverse than the indigenous Europeans, ... people perversely imagine them as cohesive to the point of clannishness and bound by common interests” (64). However, only limited research about Asians in Europe is available with a handful of studies focussed on demographic information or economic developments, and only a few books that explore cultural representations of Chinese or other East Asians in Europe. 9 Books about Asian diasporas in German speaking European countries are even more scarce. Furthermore, artistic practices from visual artists of Asian diasporas have remained essentially unexplored in a Euro-American context. In comparison, the USA has had a longer history of examining both these issues, as exemplified by the Asian American movement and its cultural practices, which makes it an important area to review for this dissertation. In contrast to the limited amount of material that deal specifically with my theme, there is no lack of theoretical sources from the humanities and fine arts that explore themes of Otherness and the relationship between the Self and the Other. Some of these concepts, especially in the areas of cultural studies, feminism and post-colonial theory, have been pertinent to this dissertation. In order to 3 See “Overseas Chinese Population Distribution” from Overseas Chinese Affairs Council, ROC website. See “2011 Census: Key Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011” from Office for National Statistics, UK Government, website. 5 See above, footnote 3. 6 See “Ständige ausländische Wohnbevölkerung nach Staatsangehörigkeit (1980-2012)” from Federal Statistical Office (FSO), Swiss Federal Government website. 7 Swiss artists with Asian diasporic backgrounds who include issues about their heritage in their art include Cat Tuong Nguyen and Quynh Dong, who were born in Vietnam and came to Switzerland as children. Other Swiss artists such as MaiThu Perret or Elodie Pong who were born in Switzerland or USA do not to refer to their diasporic background in their work. 8 For a good overview, see Li Minghuan’s article “Chinese Migration to Europe: An Overview” (2010) or Gregor Benton’s article “The Chinese in Europe: Origins and Transformations” (2011). 9 See Diasporic Histories: Cultural Archives of Chinese Transnationalism (2009) edited by Andrea Riemenschnitter and Deborah L. Madsen or Flemming Christiansen’s book Chinatown, Europe: An Exploration of Overseas Chinese Identity in the 1990s (2003). 10 Two notable exceptions include Asiatische Deutsche: Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond (2012) edited by Kien Nghi Ha which explores the Vietnamese diasporic community in Germany, or Ruby Jana Sircar’s Liquid Homelands: The Sonic Productions of Second Generation [South] Asian Women which examines sound and popular music productions from women with South Asian diasporic backgrounds in German speaking countries. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 15 understand various connotations of Other and Otherness, I found cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s writings very helpful. In his essay “The Spectacle of the ‘Other”, Hall outlines theoretical arguments in four disciplines where “difference” determines how we perceive and relate to other people and things. First, referring to Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic argument, Hall discusses how we use binary oppositions (such as the difference between “day” and “night) in linguistics in order to create meanings in language. Correspondingly, in chapter two of this dissertation, I will examine more indepth semiotic constructions of representation and meaning in artistic works. Another argument from Hall is based on Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism where “we need ‘difference’ because we can only construct meaning through a dialogue with the ‘Other’” (235). Through interaction with others, we can start to make sense of what things mean in relationship to our environment and ourselves. Similarly, I feel that both my art and this dissertation have been dialogic processes. Hall’s third argument, which refers to Mary Douglas (as well as Emile Durkheim and Claude Lévi-Strauss), comes from anthropology where each culture assigns meaning by defining principles of classification. In this explanation, binary oppositions are also significant “because one must establish a clear difference between things in order to classify them” (235). Chapter three of this dissertation will further investigate issues of classification as well as the history of anthropology in contemporary artistic practices. Referring to both Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, Hall’s fourth argument is psychoanalytic and contends that differences are crucial in the formation of subjectivities and identities: “Subjectivity can only arise and a sense of ‘self’ be formed through the symbolic and unconscious relations which the young child forges with a significant ‘Other’ which is outside – i.e. different from – itself” (238). In the same manner, in chapter four, although my emphasis will be on diaspora, place and belonging rather than psychoanalysis, I will explore correlations between place, belonging, and identity formation reflected in visual art. Feminist discourse has also made significant contributions to theories about the Other. Simone de Beauvoir’s influential 1949 book The Second Sex analysed the concept of ‘Woman’ in Western culture. She determined that ‘Man’ is defined as the Self or the absolute human type while ‘Woman’ is always measured against this standard and found to be lacking and inferior: “He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other” (xxii). According to Beauvoir, men have historically been characterized as positive, neutral, and essential, while women are only defined opposing to or in relation to men and thus negative and inessential. Beauvoir recognizes that a common way to understand the Self is through interactions with others; in fact, she states: “Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought. Thus it is that no group ever sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other...” (xxiii). However, she asserts that women have been systematically oppressed and exploited in society and, that in order for feminism to succeed and to free themselves from this existence, women must recognize and reject this construction. These ideas about the Other were also fundamental for many post-colonial theories about marginalized peoples. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 16 Edward Said’s seminal book Orientalism written in 1978, challenged Western perceptions and representations of the East. Although Said’s main focus was the Middle East, he notes that especially in America, Orient often refers to the Far East (mainly Japan and China). Said contends that the ‘Orient’ is constructed by and in relation to the West and exists as a mirror image of what is inferior, and alien or Other: Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hay has called the idea of Europe, a collective notion identifying ‘us’ Europeans as against all ‘those’ non-Europeans, and indeed it can be argued that the major component in European culture is precisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe: the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and cultures. There is in addition the hegemony of European ideas about the Orient, themselves reiterating European superiority over Oriental backwardness (7). Said eloquently describes the signification of group identification and ideas of belonging in concepts of the Other. Furthermore, he argues that the tradition of systematically distorted and exotic representations of non-Western cultures has been shaped by the hegemonic attitudes of European imperialism of the 18 and 19 centuries: “The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony... The Orient was Orientalized not only because it was discovered to be ‘Oriental’ in all those ways considered commonplace by an average nineteenth-century European, but also because it could be – that is submitted to being – made Oriental (5-6; emphasis in original). Said’s claims are connected to Gramsci’s idea of hegemony where the dominating class retains its power with the consent of the subordinating classes by projecting their view of the world as ‘natural’ or ‘common sense’ which then becomes the consensus view. In addition, following concepts from Michel Foucault, Said emphasizes the relationship between power and knowledge and contended that the Occident creates and controls knowledge produced about the Other in order to legitimatize its power. The body chapters of this dissertation will explore these themes further in my investigation of contemporary art practices. As seen above, ideas about Self and Other are also intimately related to notions surrounding ‘identity’. Hall has written considerably about his view that identities are “fragmented and fractured; never singular but multiply constructed... subject to a radical historicization, and are constantly in the process of change and transformation” (“Questions of Cultural Identity” 4). Because the concept of identity has been so thoroughly examined and theorized in multiple discourses, as well as in several contradictory arguments, it can be difficult to navigate through the different meanings. In addition to Hall, I found discussions concerning identity from Linda Martin Alcoff stimulating for my research. In her book Visible Identities, Alcoff focuses on social identities visibly marked on the body and distinguishes between two aspects of the Self: “public identity” and “lived subjectivity”. “[P]ublic Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 17 identity is our socially perceived Self within the systems of perception and classification and the networks of community in which we live” (92-93). In contrast, “lived subjectivity” is “who we understand ourselves to be, how we experience being ourselves, and the range of reflective and other activities that can be included under the rubric of our ‘agency’” (93; emphasis in original). In this way, our identities can be described as the relationships between perceived identifications from external influences, and our own sense of Self or inner subjectivity. However, Alcoff cautions against the “interior/exterior” terminology of the Self which implies that these two aspects are distinct entities instead of “mutually constitutive” (93) as well as how many constructions of identity can be “overly homogenizing, essentialist, reductive, or simplistic” (14). This dissertation will approach identityrelated artistic practices similarly, distinguishing between the processes of perceived identification and inner subjectivity in order to conceptualize the relationship between the external influences such as historical, cultural and social conditions that situate an artist and the subjective nature of artistic production. Similarly, Michel Foucault’s concepts of discourse and subject position also play a key role in these discussions. According to Foucault, all forms of knowledge and meaning are formed from systems of thought determined by cultural and historical processes or ‘discourse’. For example, Edward Said’s description of Orientalism, discussed previously, establishes it as “a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, ...” (1-2). In this way, it follows a certain internal set of rules and codes specific to itself. An individual or a ‘subject’ does not create him or herself, but is formed within a set of discourses. Thus, a ‘subject-position’ is the idea that a specific discourse determines what that subject can think or do in a specific situation. Whereas Alcoff’s ideas of “public identity” and “lived subjectivity” are concerned with the question of identity and the Self, Foucault’s subject-position is pertinent to his main concept of discourse. Stuart Hall explains this idea by stating that we “become its ‘subjects’ by ‘subjecting’ ourselves to its meaning, power and regulation. All discourses, then, construct subject-positions from which alone they make sense” (“Work of Representation” 56). Although Hall concludes that discourses create the subject-position from which they are the most meaningful, this does not mean that we cannot resist a specific discourse by shifting ourselves to an alternative discourse. However, he points out that knowledge is fundamentally a product of discourse and not of the subjects who speak or communicate it: “Subjects may produce particular texts, but they are operating within the limits of the episteme, the discursive formation, the regime of truth, of a particular period and culture” (55; emphasis in original). Thus, I realize that my art as well as this dissertation can only produce new knowledge within the specific discourses and limitations where I am engaged. Another significant concept was the idea of “situated knowledge”, first introduced by Donna Haraway in order to describe feminist objectivity or “critical positioning”. In her 1988 seminal article “Situated Knowledge”, Haraway questions the idea of impartial or objective knowledge, what she calls “an Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 18 illusion, the god-trick” (582) and argues “for positioning, and situating, where partiality and universality is the condition of being heard to make rational knowledge claims.... I am arguing for the view from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring, and structured body, versus the view from above, from nowhere...” (589). Thus, the nature of objectivity is related to personal experience and understanding. Although Haraway recognizes objective knowledge that is in some sense “real”, she emphasizes its aspects as shareable, communicable or transmissible: “partial, locatable critical knowledges sustaining the possibility of webs of connections called solidarity in politics and shared conversations in epistemology” (584). Using vision as a metaphor for knowledge, she argues that all seeing/knowing is embodied and invariably a located, partial perspective rather than a disembodied and objectifying all-knowing gaze. Furthermore, marginalized perspectives or “subjugated standpoints” offer more possibilities for “knowledge potent for constructing worlds less organized by axes of domination”; however, just “being” marginalized does not guarantee critical positioning which is required to “see well” (585). Instead, she contends that “the split and contradictory self is the one who can interrogate positionings and be accountable, the one who can construct and join rational conversations and fantastic imaginings that change history” (586). Multidimensional subjectivity which is thus necessarily imperfect but partially connected can be enabling and transformative for the “productions of knowledge” (592). Recognition of my own critical subjectivity or acknowledging that my observations come from a specific cultural and biological position is thus important in this dissertation and I attempt to use Haraway’s approach to think critically about how art and ideas about identity are situated in a network of interconnections between society and culture in order to explore themes of Otherness. In art discourse, the question of subjectivity and positioning also exists and often determines the meaning and even the value of art. For example, in her book Vision and Difference, British art historian Griselda Pollock refers both to Edward Said and Michel Foucault in her feminist analysis of art history. Pollock argues that Western art history has been a masculine discourse which supports specific underlying values and assumptions such as the figure of the creative artist: “one major articulation of the contradictory nature of bourgeois ideals of masculinity” (16). Furthermore, “High Culture” has been instrumental for the confirmation and distribution of “relative values and meanings for the ideological constructs of masculinity and femininity” where creativity is masculine, and the image is feminine produced for the “desiring masculine gaze” (161-162). However, during the 1970s (and continuing through the mid-1990s), conventions in art and cultural discourse were challenged by concepts of ‘identity politics’ and multiculturalism, particularly in the USA and Great Britain. Marginalized social groups recognized their oppression and initiated political activity based on their group identity which was then referred to as “politics of identity”. These ideas were exemplified by 11 See also Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker’s book: Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology (1981). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 19 several important art exhibitions in the USA and Great Britain which included work by artists who had been excluded from mainstream art discourses because of some aspect of their identity. In the mid-1990s, however, a backlash against ideas about ‘identity politics’ emerged and many cultural movements with the prefix ‘post’ developed as a reaction to or as a rejection of certain directions or concerns: ‘post-feminism,’ ‘post-black,’ ‘post-queer’ or ‘post-identity’ are some examples. Frequently embedded in popular culture or the mass media, these declarations assert that the globalized world has progressed to the point where these concerns are no longer significant. However, at the same time, various conflicts, often violent, based on perceived identifications including religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexuality have not ceased; thus, I believe these issues are still highly relevant in our contemporary world. In art discourse, adverse reaction against artistic production which critically examined identity related issues also occurred. The term ‘post-identity’ became popular for the notion that art should not be affected by the artist’s perceived identification. However, as the US feminist art scholar and curator Amelia Jones observes in her book Seeing Differently: “art is always already about ‘identity’ in more ways than the obvious: the artwork is always already identified in relation to various kinds of culture, various kinds of subject, various kinds of belief” (78). Fundamental concepts about aesthetics and art are imbedded within European based cultures understanding of subjectivity. In addition, both supporters as well as opponents of identity-related art often endorse the concept of post-identity art practices. Art theorist Alpesh Kantilal Patel observes: “The former does so purportedly to distinguish between different waves of artistic production concerned with primarily racial, gendered, and sexual difference, but seems to fall back on conceptualizing identity as positional or fixed; while the latter suggests that we are post or over identity, but only to return artistic value back to a dis-embodied art object” (“Open Secrets in ‘Post-identity’ Era”). His remarks point out the inherent difficulties with discussions about art with regards to aspects of identity and my own struggles in this dissertation to continuously interrogate fixed positions in constructions of identity. Jones offers a possible suggestion out of this quandary: “The key here is to acknowledge the complex histories of art and theory explicitly addressing the politics of identity, respecting the important need in the past to identify (construct) binaries, while eschewing the repetition of these binaries in this renewed theoretical framework” (173). Following these arguments from Pollock and Jones, as well as Haraway, my contention is that the meaning of art is subjective and always situated in a network of interconnections between history, culture, and society. Furthermore, art is inherently a subjective expression of an artist and thus cannot be separated from the background and interests of the artist. As my research investigates artistic 12 An important exhibition in USA was the 1993 Whitney Biennial which will be further explored in chapter two. 13 A landmark exhibition in Great Britain was “The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain” (1989) which was curated by Rasheed Araeen. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 20 approaches for representations of Otherness which resonate with my own subject-position, these above ideas and theories were decisive for the selection of artistic works that I examine in this dissertation. Clearly, certain physical markers of difference such as skin colour, gender, eye shape, etc., often determine our reaction to someone. However, the issue is not that we are all different, but that some physical markers have meanings that connote beliefs about that person’s personality, abilities or intelligence. As Stuart Hall observes in his filmed lecture Race, the Floating Signifier, classifying things is a human impulse, one that is necessary to determine meaning and to understand the world around us. However, a problem arises “when the systems of classification become the objects of the disposition of power” in the categorising of human beings; in other words, when these physical markers of difference become the reason one group of people receives more advantages than another. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier with Said’s discussion about Orientalism, in order for the dominant group to maintain its power, the meanings of these signifiers appear to be ‘natural’ or normal – this is how cultural hegemony functions. Thus, as Hall argues in his book Representation, representations of difference (including race, gender, class, and more recently, faith or religion) in media and culture not only reflect but also constitute ‘knowledge’ and meanings about what these markers signify. A key argument for Hall, and for this dissertation, is that meanings of representation are never ‘fixed’ or permanent; instead, they are constantly dependent on historical circumstances and conditions. In this way, our ‘knowledge’ or assumptions about the Other can be seen as culturally constructed. Moreover, cultural production (including both ‘high’ art and ‘low’ or ‘popular’ culture) becomes not only a tool for the dominant group, but also a possible form of resistance against cultural hegemony that can shift meanings of difference. In his essay “What is this ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?” Hall writes: “Cultural strategies that can make a difference, that's what I'm interested in – those that can make a difference and can shift the dispositions of power” (468). Similar to Hall, Griselda Pollock argues that because cultural ideology is always evolving, there are possibilities for resistance and change (Vision and Difference 26-29). According to Pollock, art is not reflective of nor constrained by dominant social belief systems; instead, she contends: “Artists work in but also on ideology” (Vision and Difference 47). As a practicing visual artist, I am both inspired and intimidated by Hall and Pollock. If art is a form of cultural production that can change or revise dominant ideological meanings about the Other, where do I begin? What kind of artistic strategies or approaches “make a difference” and “shift dispositions of power”? These are some of the questions that stimulated and influenced this research, in addition to other, more tangible concerns for my own artistic practice. For this dissertation, I ask, how do artists with ‘in-between’ cultural identities, especially women artists 14 Race, the Floating Signifier is a filmed lecture at Goldsmith’s College by Stuart Hall directed by Sut Jhully, Media Education Foundation, 1997. 15 See also Hall’s essays: “New Ethnicities” (1989), “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” (1989), and “What is this ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?” (1992). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 21 with Asian diasporic backgrounds, represent notions about Otherness? What new correlations can be drawn between theoretical discourse and artistic practice? In order to answer these questions, I investigate artistic strategies from artists with mixed cultural backgrounds who explore related themes of cultural identities and belonging in their work. As I was interested in examining perspectives similar to mine, I was attracted to contemporary women artists with Asian diasporic backgrounds who often explored issues of representation. For example, I selected Yoko Ono, a Japanese American, because of her image in popular culture, her historical importance, and her conceptual performance Cut Piece (1965) and Patty Chang, a Chinese American, because of her role in contemporary visual art culture and her critical performances and videos of popular Asian female stereotypes (often depicting herself) and exemplified by the video Melons (at a Loss) (1998). I noticed several interesting similarities and differences in these performances and explore these in chapter one. Similarly, Nikki S. Lee’s Projects (1997-2001) incorporates images of herself, a Korean American woman, in various contexts and challenges notions about difference and belonging. Although I believe her intentions for this series could be questioned, I appreciate the originality and variety of her diverse roles. The photographs and videos from Fiona Tan, of mixed heritage and living in Amsterdam, offer a differentiated perspective about representations of the Other and interrogate ideas about truth and authenticity. I have seen several of her works in various contexts and feel strongly connected to her approach to art as well as the content. Subsequently, I present Korean American artist Yong Soon Min, who investigates concepts about cultural identities and origin through her re-presentation of history in installations and photographs or collages. Politically active background in the Asian American movement during the 1980s and 1990s, Min’s exploration of her hybrid cultural identities was significant for her development as an artist and has similarities to my own artistic process. In order to compare the similarities and differences, I also include three other artists who reflect about related issues concerning the Other in their artistic practices and whose works have personally affected and influenced me. For instance, I discuss artworks from the 1980s and 1990s of the African American artist Lorna Simpson, whose large-scale photographs with text were particularly significant during the popularity of multiculturalism and identity politics in US art discourse. As I mentioned before, I was essentially unaware of these topics during my Swiss art photography education, where I remember artists such as Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky with Bernd and Hilda Becher (Dusseldorf Art Academy), Jeff Wall, Nan Goldin or Nobuyoshi Araki being discussed. However, at this time, I discovered a catalogue of Lorna Simpson in a Swiss art book store and immediately purchased it. For me, Simpson’s catalogue was one of the first times, if not the first time, I came into contact with a 16 Although work from Lorna Simpson is included in important Swiss public and private collections (e.g. Fotomuseum Winterthur or Ringier), until now, 2014, Simpson has never shown in Switzerland, either in a solo exhibition or in a group show. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 22 critical examination of identity-related issues of Otherness in an art context and thus always remained a critical reference figure for me. In chapter two, I will compare these iconic earlier works with Nikki S. Lee’s Projects (1997-2001) series. Furthermore, I examine Guillermo Gómez-Peña, a Mexican American artist and cultural activist known for his provocative performances with extreme stereotypes that reveal cultural preconceptions about the Other. During the initial phase of my research, I read several of Gómez-Peña’s books and writings. His direct, spirited and often contentious style of writing which includes a nuanced sense of complex theoretical concepts from the perspective of a practicing artist was inspiring and significant in developing my own thoughts about these themes. I will make a comparison between his artistic practice and that of Fiona Tan in chapter three. Finally, I analyse the artistic practice of Mona Hatoum, a twice-exiled Palestinian, who communicates the condition of exile with ambiguous objects and installations that make the familiar unfamiliar and threatening. I have had the opportunity to see several large-scale installations from Mona Hatoum and have invariably been deeply moved and affected. Furthermore, her well-known complex background as a dual exile was relevant for me in the exploration of concepts of origin and belonging which also made it interesting to compare her to Yong Soon Min in chapter four. Far from being comprehensive, this research is located within a specific point of view. My choices for artists and artistic works are affected by my personal history, my artistic practice in photo-based and video works, and my context in Switzerland and Europe. I posit that these contemporary artists have created works that offered alternative, multiple, and relational perspectives about issues of difference and concepts of belonging. However, I do not wish to reduce their complex backgrounds or their artistic practice to their ethnicity and gender nor do I consider their perspectives homogenous or universally definitive. Instead, I am more inspired by an intersectional theory of identification that examines the intersection or interaction of socially and constructed categories of identity (e.g. class, race, or gender) on multiple levels. Rather than approaching sexism or racism independently, the intersectional approach analyses the interrelation between different categories of oppression that contribute to the creation of a system of power and oppression. For me, there are multiple axes of social relations and subject formations that contribute to each individual; however, because of my own experiences and background, I am interested in artistic practices that reflect on concepts about the Other and articulate similar hybrid or in-between positions. How do visual artists express ideas or meanings about Otherness and issues of belonging in their art? This is the central question of this dissertation. In order to understand the meanings and social effects of specific artistic practices, ideas from Pollock were helpful: “Firstly the practice must be located as part of the social struggles between classes, races, genders articulating with other sites of representation. But secondly we must analyse what any specific practice is doing, what meanings is 17 See Patricia Hill Collins’ seminal book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (2000) for a good introduction to other important intersectional concepts. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 23 being produced and how and for whom” (Vision and Difference 9-10). Accordingly, this dissertation first examines each artist within his or her biographical and historical context and location. Because of my own personal history and interests, I will focus on women artists with Asian diasporic backgrounds. As all the visual artists discussed are well-established and have exhibited widely at various international institutions, the audience (or the “for whom”) for this dissertation are other artists or theorists who are interested in strategic approaches to Otherness in contemporary art. Nevertheless, the main research interest is the investigation of “what meanings” and “how” these critical expressions of Otherness are being produced – specifically the artistic strategies or approaches that connect aesthetic choices and mediums to intentions and ideas for content and meaning. My research methodology is to compare selected pairs of artists – where at least one is a woman of Asian diasporic background – using a set of categories as a comparative framework. The suggested categories were influenced by writings from several art and cultural theorists who describe artistic strategies that interrogate beliefs about difference or Otherness and emphasize the complex dynamic processes involved in questions concerning identities and identifications. For example, in her 1990 classic book Mixed Blessings which defined the US multicultural art movement, the art critic and theorist Lucy Lippard asks: “[W]hat does it take to turn a stereotype around, to undermine a commonly assumed ‘realism’? The options for breaking patterns, reversing stigmas, and conceiving a new and more just world picture are many and multifaceted. They range from opening wounds, to seeking revenge through representation, to reversing destructive developments so the healing process can begin” (241). Although this book was written in the midst of the multicultural art debate, many of Lippard’s insights are still significant, such as the strategies which artists traditionally marginalized in USA often use: “Irony, humour, and subversion are the most common guises and disguises of those artists leaping out of the melting pot into the fire. They hold mirrors up to the dominant culture, slyly infiltrating mainstream art with alternative experiences-inverse, reverse, perverse” (199). Similarly, Griselda Pollock suggests that feminist artists follow Bertolt Brecht by employing “disidentificatory practices” or “distanciation” strategies to “liberate the viewer from the state of being captured by illusions of art which encourages passive identification with fictional worlds” (“Screening the Seventies” 82). Her strategies are aimed at distancing or estranging the viewer from identifying with mainstream ideological expectations (e.g. the hero in a film, etc.) by not incorporating basic codes and conventions. Further Brechtian notions that she defines as “scripto-visual” such as collage and montage that combine or juxtapose disparate elements could also inspire new ways of making art (“Screening the Seventies” 84). However, Pollock is critical of feminist art that uses imagery which emphasize female sexuality as these images “are easily retrieved and co-opted by a male culture because they do not rupture radically meanings and connotations of woman in art as body, as sexual, as nature, as object for male possession” (Parker and Pollock, Old Mistresses, 130). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 24 Contrarily, the Asian American film theorist and filmmaker Celine P. Shimizu rejects the notion that sexualized images are always necessarily demeaning or negative for women in her investigation of representations of Asian American women in theatre, film, and video. For Shimizu, such denunciations are moralistic and often meant to “discipline” or control behaviour. Instead, she argues for a strategy of “productive perversity” where racialized sexuality, usually deemed demeaning or negative, can be seen as an empowering form of feminist resistance that criticizes conventional and normative definitions of sexuality (The Hypersexuality of Race 97). By examining how Asian American performers can both embody and work against stereotypical images, Shimizu’s argument does not simply reject sexualized representations, but contends that these images have the potential to contest and undermine what is considered normal sexual behaviour. Furthermore, she sees both the performer as well as the viewer as having mutually significant roles in creating meaning from a performance. In a similar manner, cultural theorist Stuart Hall writes about various “trans-coding strategies” or strategies that take existing meanings and re-appropriate them for new meanings (Representation 270). According to Hall, strategies that reverse the evaluation of stereotypes (e.g. ‘blaxploitation’ films) or substitute positive images (e.g. “Black is Beautiful”) do not subvert stereotypes themselves, but only perpetuate the binary model (Representation 270-274). Instead, he suggests a counter strategy that “accepts and works with the shifting, unstable character of meaning, and enters as it were into a struggle over representation; while acknowledging that, since meaning can never be finally fixed; there can never be any final victories” (Representation 274). Comparatively, Amelia Jones also argues that earlier artistic strategies for countering the objectification or “fetishism” of marginalized people emerged as a result of early feminist visual theory and anti-racist theory of 1970s and 1980s and often reinforced binary models about difference. Her alternative is a model of thinking about visuality called “queer feminist durationality” in which: artists strategically immerse themselves within the field of seeing and knowing in order to bring it elsewhere ... and to articulate the entire question of identity as one of temporal flow and process, rather than binary fixing of self and other. This is, one could say, a process of distorting the world picture through anamorphic strategies that queer the subject – among which, as noted, I am highlighting durationality in the proposing, adopting, and opening out of a potential range of identifications (109; emphasis in original). “Blaxploitation” is a film genre that was popular in the USA in the 1970s, but now frequently criticized for its stereotypical depictions of Blacks. Both the cast and the target audience were Black, and the emphasis was on positively portraying or even celebrating what were normally considered negative stereotypes. This meant, for example, that the black hero was a professional stud who used extensive violence and a ‘bad attitude’ in a ghetto setting in order to achieve success against a white establishment. See Stuart Hall in Representation (1997), pp. 270-272. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 25 Anamorphosis is a perspective technique that creates a distorted image which is only coherent when viewed from a specific angle. In order to see a comprehensible image, it is necessary to view the oblique anamorph from a position that deviates considerably from a conventional, frontal viewpoint. Because the observer of the work must actively locate the viewing position in order to understand the meaning of the image, he or she becomes aware of being a knowing and embodied viewer. Furthermore, there are also correlations between anamorphosis and the concept of ostranenie (“making strange”) which was introduced by the Russian Formalist critic and novelist Viktor Schklovsky in his influential essay “Art as Technique” first published in 1917. Ostranenie often translated to “defamiliarization” describes how art and literary works often disrupt the audience’s habitual perception of the world in order to provide a new perspective. Jones’ emphasis, however, is on the embodied experience as well as the duration or process of that experience: “anamorphosis exposes the contingency of the embodied viewer as a subject whose access to the world can only ever be through the various senses, which rely on bodily experiences taking place over time” (86). Thus, similar to Haraway’s concept of “situated knowledge”, Jones believes that acknowledging the nature of objectivity as coming from a specific cultural and biological position can be enabling and transformative. By distilling and combining these various theoretical approaches I propose the following four categories as part of a framework for comparison: Literary Device: What types of literary device (e.g. drama, humour, irony, or parody, etc.) is used to communicate the artist’s perspective? While Lippard explicitly mentions several literary devices in the above quote as example strategies, Pollock emphasizes techniques that distance the viewer from identifying with mainstream values which describes how writers use literary devices to indicate an alternate opinion. Although literary devices usually refer to writing, it can be potentially useful to see how they are also incorporated in visual art. Reappropriation: What kind of cultural images or references has been reclaimed or reappropriated? Appropriation or the use of pre-existing cultural images in art to make a point has been a significant artistic approach in the history of Western European art and continues to be a popular post-modern artistic strategy. Both Hall and Shimizu, however, describe the possibility to reappropriate or reclaim previously negatively associated concepts in order to transform their meanings, not only to reverse them. 19 There are many examples of this ranging from Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades or Andy Warhol’s silk-screened Cambell Soup cans to Sherrie Levine’s photographs of Walker Evan’s photographs or . For more information about use of appropriation in post-modern artistic practices, see John Welchman’s book Art After Appropriation: Essays on Art in the 1990s (2001). Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 26 Anamorphic Situation: What kind of amamorphic situation is created? How does the observer of the work become aware of being an embodied viewer? Jones proposes “distorting the world picture through anamorphic strategies” in order to reveal the dependencies on other bodily experiences and senses inherent in the viewing process. This idea is not only related to Haraway’s concept of “situated knowledge” but also has correlations to Shimizu’s discussion of “productive perversity” as well as Pollock’s “distanciation” concept. Theoretical Correlation: What concept or idea is suggested or connoted by the artwork? This category of comparison developed out of my own interests for this research. In this way, I examine the correlations between the art examples and significant theoretical concepts. These four categories are the results of my attempt to operationalize the referenced theoretical considerations into a more concrete form that may be more directly applicable for analysing artistic practices. By bringing together key elements from different theorists, I hope to provide a practical tool for determining how artists create work that express ideas or meanings about Otherness and issues of belonging in their art. In addition to comparing artistic strategies, this study will also examine the background and development of each artist as well as the context or historical circumstances present during creation and exhibition of their work because, as noted earlier, these aspects are crucial for determining the meaning of any artwork. Consequently, the theme of each of the four body chapters will be clarified through a comparison of two artists – where at least one is a woman artist with an Asian diasporic background – by using these categories as a comparative framework The first chapter will investigate the history of representations of Asian women in the USA in order to provide a framework for understanding possible contemporary art reactions and to identify correlations between popular culture and visual arts with regards to depictions of Asian women. A brief introduction to the contested identification of ‘Asian American’ as well as the Asian American Movement will also be discussed as many of the issues concerning representations of Asian women in the USA have been examined in this context. Two comparisons, one in popular culture and one in visual arts, will be made between different eras in order to explore the developments in American representations of Asian women since the 1920s and the 1960s, respectively. By comparing the film characters, body image and sexuality between two Hollywood actresses Anna May Wong (active 1920s-1940s) and Lucy Liu (1990s-present), I will examine the shift in representational discourse of Asian women since the 1920s in film. I will investigate similar changes in the visual arts between the 1960s and 1990s by comparing the intention, historical context, and artistic strategies of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece in 1965 and Patty Chang’s Melons (at a Loss) in 1998. Finally, I will consider these connections between popular culture and visual art by evaluating the results of these two comparisons. In the second chapter, I will examine and compare Lorna Simpson’s artworks from the 1980s and 1990s with Nikki S. Lee’s Projects (1997-2001) in order to show the role of cultural connotations in Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 27 representations of the Other. Both Simpson and Lee have used strategies of “reading the body” (Hall) and made viewers conscious of the constructed nature of racial and gender signifiers of the body. In order to contextualize these two artists, I will explore the role of identity politics and the more current discussions about post-identity and color-blindness in art and cultural discourse and will also argue that these historical circumstances could be important factors to consider in interpretations and responses to Simpson’s and Lee’s works. For the third chapter, I will compare the strategic approaches of Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Fiona Tan in order to investigate the role of power, knowledge, and truth in classifying and identifying people. Both artists have examined ethnographic practices and revealed the correlations between power, knowledge and truth as well as how systems of classification, as well as the mediums of film and photography, are invariably subjective. Furthermore, I posit that both artists used methods of deconstruction to reveal the Self and created artworks that could influence historical reflections of the viewer. Moreover, as a background for the analysis, I will present some theoretical discussions about the correlations between knowledge and power and how this affects classifying and stereotyping. In addition, I will briefly examine the history of anthropology and its “crisis of representation” because both Gómez-Peña and Tan make critical references to this history. In chapter four, I will focus on the ‘diaspora identities’ of Yong Soon Min and Mona Hatoum and their artistic practices that challenged conventional notions of origin and belonging and created artworks that investigated the concept of home as a ‘place where one belongs’ in order to offer new perspectives about who we are in relation to others. As a theoretical context, I will consider alternative views about belonging such as place, planetarity, or diaspora. In addition, because of Yong Soon Min’s active participation in the Asian American art movement, I will re-examine themes about Asian American identity, which are introduced in the first chapter, in order to contextualize Yong Soon Min’s artistic practice and her specific concerns as an Asian American woman. Throughout these four chapters, I will endeavour to reflect on artistic strategies which undermine fixed meanings about the Other and also reveal the cultural and historical processes and experiences involved in viewing and understanding art. By using my proposed four categories (literary devices, reappropriation, anamorphic situations, and theoretical correlations) for an analysis of artistic approaches, I hope to offer new perspectives on how artists make work which potentially shift meanings about cultural identities, especially related to cultural origin and belonging. Through the comparative analyses, similarities as well as contrasts between artistic practices from women artists with Asian diasporic background compared to other European or American artists with various cultural backgrounds may also become more apparent. Moreover, my intention is to consider artistic practices from women artists of Asian diasporic background within a broader inquiry into artistic strategies that explore issues of Otherness in order to establish the relevance of specific experiences for understanding the more universal implications of questions of belonging in culture and art. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 28 Furthermore, the historical and social contexts as well as theoretical concerns for the development of artistic strategies that interrogate meanings of difference will be established. The final chapter will draw upon the body chapters and present a summary of conclusions that correlate the visual art examples with the theoretical discussions as well as with the artist’s context and background. Since the 1960s with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement, through the 1970s and 1980s during the peak of various political movements challenging injustices to particular social groups, and after the 1990s with the advent of terms such as post-identity, post-black or post-feminism, visual artists have consistently challenged and extended conventional beliefs regarding identification of differences. By investigating artistic approaches that explore alternative perspectives of Otherness, I contend that visual art has the potential to establish a way of seeing identities as intersectional, hybrid, relational processes rather than as a set of conventional fixed assumptions. The audience for this thesis could be artists and theorists who are interested in new contextual analogies for artistic practices in visual culture. The issues surrounding identity are socially and politically more relevant than ever; therefore, an analysis of artistic practices that explore representations of the Other can offer further insights into effective approaches for negotiating and positioning oneself and others in relation to issues of belonging and difference. Between Selves and Others: Exploring Strategic Approaches within Visual Art ©Teresa Chen, 2014 29 Chapter 1. Asian Women in the USA: Representations in Popular Culture and Visual Art 
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