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Border praxis: Negotiating and performing ‘Hong Kongeseness’ and ‘Taiwaneseness’ in contemporary, political ‘Chinese’ art practices

Kennedy, B (2016) Border praxis: Negotiating and performing ‘Hong Kongeseness’ and ‘Taiwaneseness’ in contemporary, political ‘Chinese’ art practices. Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 3 (1). pp. 111-129. ISSN 2051-7041

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Abstract

This article draws from an AHRC-funded research project on the topic of Chinese borders in contemporary art practices, entitled Culture, Capital and Communication: Visualizing Borders in the 21st Century (CCC:VCB). The research is contextualized in the article in relation to the concept of ‘Chinese-ness’ in Contemporary Art Discourse and Practice, as addressed in the corresponding conference at the University of Lisbon – http://chineseness.fba.ul.pt. The physical and political borders that demarcate the straits of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are signifiers of the identity struggles that they contain. Art practices that address issues of Hong Kong-ese-ness and Taiwanese-ness in relation to the limitations of Chinese borders for defining their sovereign political and socio-historical identities, can, therefore, be considered as border art. Often, such explorations of identity are counter-posed with the presence of China and Chinese-ness as a cultural, economic and political hegemonic force, and ideological barrier. Artists who examine Chinese borders within their work tend to interrogate, represent and, often, contest or counter, the perceived political and cultural restrictions imposed by the Mainland. This article considers socially engaged artistic practices – including art spaces and events – encountered during the research laboratories, summative conference and site visits, which work on micro levels to both interrogate and counter the influence of Mainland China through instigating social undercurrents. I suggest that the combination of politicized theorizing and physically demonstrative or precarious art activities create a form of artistic praxis that works to expose and, in turn, traverse the limitations of border presence or absence across the Chinese straits.

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