Socially Engaged Public Art in East Asia
Space, Place, and Community in Action
Meiqin Wang (Ed.)
by Minna Valjakka (Leiden University, The Netherlands)
[...] this book is a milestone in the writing of Chinese and East Asian histories of art that will be equally useful to artists, curators, educators, scholars, and students worldwide.
[Extract from book review appearing on the journal 'Sehepunkte' (Rezensions journal für die Gesichtwissenschaften), Ausgabe 23 (2023), Nr. 7/8, issn 1618-6168; Reviewer: Anna K. Grasskamp]
This anthology elucidates the historical, global, and regional connections, as well as current manifestations, of socially engaged public art (SEPA) in East Asia. It covers case studies and theoretical inquiries on artistic practices from Hong Kong, Japan, mainland China, South Korea, and Taiwan with a focus on the period since the 2000s. It examines how public art has been employed by artists, curators, ordinary citizens, and grassroots organizations in the region to raise awareness of prevailing social problems, foster collaborations among people of varying backgrounds, establish alternative value systems and social relations, and stimulate action to advance changes in real life situations. It argues that through the endeavors of critically-minded art professionals, public art has become artivism as it ventures into an expanded field of transdisciplinary practices, a site of new possibilities where disparate domains such as aesthetics, sustainability, placemaking, social justice, and politics interact and where people work together to activate space, place, and community in a way that impacts the everyday lives of ordinary people.
As the first book-length anthology on the thriving yet disparate scenes of SEPA in East Asia, it consists of eight chapters by eight authors who have well-grounded knowledge of a specific locality or localities in East Asia. In their analyses of ideas and actions, emerging from varying geographical, sociopolitical, and cultural circumstances in the region, most authors also engage with concepts and key publications from scholars which examine artistic practices striving for social intervention and public participation in different parts of the world. Although grounded in the realities of SEPA from East Asia, this book contributes to global conversations and debates concerning the evolving relationship between public art, civic politics, and society at large.
List of figures and table
University of California San Diego
Introduction: Public art in action
California State University, Northridge
Gendered tonalities: urban publicness through street art and murals by and for women in East Asian cities
Leiden University, The Netherlands
At the threshold: Hi! Hill—Art In-Situ, a case study of community-based public art
The University of the Arts London
Public art in rural China: the case of Dongtou village graffiti festival
California State University, Northridge
Environmental aesthetics in Taiwan: revival through socially engaged public art practice and creative placemaking
Wei Hsiu Tung
National University of Tainan, Taiwan
When public art becomes the “mass line”: a case study of Dinghaiqiao Mutual-Aid Society
Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China
Art as a socio-political intervention in the public sphere: an alternative historiography of public art practices in post-war Japan
Kanazawa College of Art, Japan
Public arts of occupation in South Korea
York University, Canada
Repoliticizing the depoliticized: social practices of new workers in Picun
Virginia Commonwealth University
Meiqin Wang received a doctorate degree in Art History from the State University of New York at Binghamton and currently is a professor of Art Department at California State University Northridge teaching Asian art history courses. She researches contemporary art from China in the context of commercialization, globalization, and urbanization of the Chinese world and has written on topics such as artist villages and cultural industries, art and urbanization, and socially engaged art. Her major publications include two research monographs ’Urbanization and Contemporary Chinese Art’ (2015) and ’Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China: Voices from Below’ (2019), as well as a co-edited volume entitled ‘Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China’ (2018).
socially engaged art, art activism, cultural activism, civic activism, informal life politics, community art, participatory art, arts-based rural reconstruction, environmental aesthetics, placemaking, grassroots public sphere, publicness, translocal public spaces, regional connectivity, vernacular culture, mutual aid, avant-garde art, urban redevelopment, new workers