CFP Contemporary Art and Radical Democracy in Asia, CAA, Chicago, Feb 2014

Call for Participation

CAA College Art Association 102nd Annual Conference
Chicago, February 12-15, 2014


Contemporary Art and Radical Democracy in Asia

Sohl Lee, University of Rochester,; Bo Zheng, China Academy of Art,

How has the idea of democracy motivated radical art in Asia? How have Asian artists imagined radical forms of democracy? We invite papers to reflect on how Asian artists have engaged with, reinvented, and radicalized the notion of democracy since the 1960s. This panel will not only cast a much-needed theoretical perspective to the study of contemporary Asian art; it will also enrich global discussions on critical art and the renewal of democratic ideals.

The question of political representation has always been one of the key driving forces behind artistic productions in Asia. Whether in authoritarian regimes or democratized states, art has provided a fertile ground to imagine alternatives to existing political orders. The panel will consider topics including but not limited to: How did Chinese artists work with the idea of daminzhu (mass democracy) during and after the Cultural Revolution? How have Indian artists conjured radical enclaves in the world’s largest democracy? How did artists in South Korea contribute to minjung undong (People’s Movement) in the 1980s, and how have they continued to reinvigorate the notion of publics after the country instituted a democratic system in 1987? What can we discern in the recent surge of activist art in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Japan? And how are new media artists in Asia using online technologies to push the political and conceptual boundaries of democracy?

In recent years, the theory of radical democracy put forward by Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau in the mid-1980s has inspired lively discussions on “antagonistic art” (Bishop), “dialogical aesthetics” (Kester), and “social practice” (Esche, Sholette, Jackson) in Europe and North America. Building on these discussions, this panel also aims to draw insights from the writings by Asian theorists such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, Wang Hui, and Karatani Kojin.

We welcome proposals from artists, historians, and theorists. Papers can (a) focus on a specific country/region, (b) adopt a comparative approach, or (c) propose new theoretical frameworks.

Please send a preliminary abstract of 1-2 double-spaced pages and a CV by May 13, 2013 to and

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