Prior to the spread of the coronavirus, China trade dominated the headlines, evoking perceptions of contemporary China as manufacturing platform, its Belt and Road Initiative and ongoing trade wars, and the specter of its security apparatus reaching beyond its national borders. In art history, "China trade" references export art and material culture brought back from the Middle Kingdom by merchants, travelers, and military expeditions from the 16th century to the early 20th century. Up to now contemporary artists have explored China as factory of the world, working through and with objects, producers, and consumers subject to the brutish cycles of supply and demand and mercurial shifts in global mass consumption, along with mis/representations and exoticizations in revisiting and refashioning Chinoiserie. Aesthetic responses have also looked beyond the movement of mere commodities—such as ideas, labor, religion, and diseases—transmitted at a faster speed and propelled by ever-more efficient means of transport and communication.
Join us for a discussion on how artists and visual culture about and in China have shifted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar will feature artists and art historians who have continually engaged with China and its received histories, geo-political boundaries, and hybridized subjectivities, with implications for national and individual identity.