Artistic Intervention and Social Critique: A Dialogue in the Inter-Asian Context
Speaker: Zheng Hong-Bin
Date: 8th December 2017
What do you think about arts? Are they aesthetic practices? Perhaps, it may be as social movement or political practices. Any junction between aesthetic practices and political practices? Artisans, as the producer of sensible and sensibility, in the milieu of changing society, is there any special existence for them? Not only the distribution of space, but also its relationship between the audience, two subjects (arts and people) involved in the conversation what chemical reaction happens?
Zheng Hongbin currently is the curator of Xi’an Art Museum. He has worked at Guangdong Times Museum as the project coordinator. He would like to share about his experience of three art projects that he has curated and organized include: On Practice: the Instruction Nearby (2016), Promised Land: the Park Xing Qing Gong (2016), Co-production (2017), Launch of ‘Resident’ Project (2017)
藝術介入與社會批判: 亞際知識對話 Artistic Intervention and Social Critique: A Dialogue in the Inter-Asian Context
Speaker: Kim Jun from Gim Jungi
Speaker: Le Thuan Uyen
This is a session of the workshop on “Artistic Intervention and Social Critique: A Dialogue in the Inter-Asia Context” held by the International Institute for Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University in December 2017. The videoincludes two talks about art practices and art environment, given by two artists from Korea and Vietnam. The question of how artists and curators define the artistic practices in the contemporary context could be answered differently here, but both speakers shared certain similarities in their thoughts.
“Activist Artist in Korean Social Art”
The first lecture,“Activist Artist in Korean Social Art”, focused on social arts within the relations of social practice and artistic practice. Artist Gim Jungi, who gave the speech, is now Director of Jeju Musem of Art, Head of Jeju Biennale. He believes that there is an absence of contact between society and art, thus the necessity of art, especially social art, in order to narrow the gap. According to Gim, social art comprises of community art and activist art. While the former relates to cooperation and coexistence, the latter revolves around participation, intervention and changing society. Minjung Art Group, an artistic organization emerged during the 80s, was an exemplar of the second form, as they not only used art to describe the daily life of people around them, but also invited these people to collaborate and create art. This kind of on-site (現場) art would utilize any space deemed suitable, thus it is not just limited within exhibitions and galleries. It is also worth noticing how social movements during the 80s generated energy for minjung art in the Korean society.
“It Is (NOT) All about the Space!”
In the second part of the video, “It is (Not) All about the Space”, Vietnamese researcher/curator Le Thuan Uyen introduced the history of art space development in Vietnam and raised the question of rethinking about space. Under the influence of the dominant Communist Party in Vietnam, it is usually realism art that depicted and honored patriotism and socialism that is recognized and allowed to be displayed in public. Art and culture were considered other battlefields in the fight for independence. Before 1988, there was governmental restriction on opening art space, since the government maintained their control through arm-length institutions. Even until today, strict censorship is still imposed upon art practices, and art almost existed outside of public life. The urgent needs for medium grounds to introduce contemporary art to people has motivated young artists and curators like Le to seek and utilize available spaces: from studios opened at home to interactive art on the streets or even art event held in a hospital, and non-physical space for video artwork display thanks to the emergence of digital platforms lately. Therefore, when we think about space, it is not all about “space”, or more specifically, physical space, but also non-physical space.
In summary, we see how artists responded to in challenging situations in the talks given by Gim and Le. Artists play an intermediary role in connecting art with the society. In several situations, it is usually the artists who shoulder the responsibility of producing art and bringing art closer to the public. Moreover, repression and constraint usually lead to resistance, as in the case of Minjung Art Group in the movements for democracy in Korean, or Vietnamese artists trying to establish their own space despite the cultural policies of the government. In fact, one may ask whether the vitality of art could still be maintained in a place free of social conflicts and political issues, or maybe certain kind of disruption is necessary to maintain the energy of artistic production.