Speakers: Byron Kim (New York), Seher Shah (New York), Wang Gangle (Beijing)
Moderator: Joan Kee, Assistant Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan
Histories of abstraction often center on the refusal to produce mimetic works, an impulse critically shaped by the pressures brought to bear in the 19th century with technological innovations such as photography. Abstraction became a critical means through which to explore the relationship between art and reality, a project taken up in many parts of Asia, especially in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, and Pakistan, and more recently, China. More pressing still is the extent to which abstraction has figured as a privileged lens through which to think about the boundary separating the internal imagined realm of the work from the extra-artistic context in which it exists. This is particularly the case for artists of Asian descent living and working in sites whose own conceptions of abstraction have only recently begun to acknowledge non-Western works. This panel investigates what might be called the content of abstraction and the extent to which that content is motivated by larger desires to address structural inequalities and discrepancies on which the idea of contemporary art is founded.