Keynote 1: Asian Biennials: History, Practices & Literature


John Clark, Professor of Asian Art History, University of Sydney
Asian Biennials: History, practices & literature

"Is there an art historical approach to Asian Biennales, or is art historical analysis evacuated by the position statements and practices of curators whose methodologies and underlying suppositions now claim interpretive authority? Does the claim that 'contemporary' art is the new 'modern' art eviscerate and de-historicise previous discourses? What is the structure of the transnational art selection and appraisal structures which authorises curatorial practice, and is there a specifically 'Asian' set of such structures, or do these mark the advent of a new Euramerican wolf in Asian sheep's clothing? Does the accelerating separation from art as a medium of inter-national exchange into a top-down allocation of a restricted canon constitute the imposition of a new form of hegemony which now operates on all three levels together: trans-national (beyond states, global), inter-national (between states, e.g. China-Japan) and local (inside one state, e.g. Korea alone)? Some answers will be sought to these questions from a book draft by the author, and a reading of recent literature, including texts by Paul O'Neill, Terry Smith, the Biennial Foundation, and in a recent issue of Yishu: Journal of Chinese Contemporary Art."



John Clark, FAHA, CIHA, PhD, is Professor of Asian Art History at the University of Sydney. He is working under an ARC Professorial Fellowship on a new comparative study of The Asian Modern, focused on 25 artists in five generational cohorts across Asia (including Australia) from the 1850s-1980s. Among his books are Modern Asian Art (University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998); the co-edited Eye of the Beholder (Wild Peony, Sydney, 2006); Modernities of Chinese Art (Brill, Leiden, 2010); Asian Modernities: Chinese and Thai Art in the 1980s and 1990s (Power Publications, Sydney, 2010); and Modernities of Japanese Art (Brill, Leiden, 2013).