Archive for the ‘Culture issues’ Category

到达柏林

Friday, September 18th, 2009

2009年9月17日 晴 北京-柏林
经过了一周的文化管理学习,全体学员于17日当天飞往柏林。
出发前的两件小事
清晨7点半,我在家门口打辆黑车到机场。由于最近管的严,一旦司机被警察抓到,就要被罚款两万,我需要在一上车就付钱,而不是等到机场再给师傅。
8点20我顺利到达机场。已经有很多同学早就在排队了。由于Ed早以在网上帮我Check-in了,我只需到指定柜台托运行李,所以我的所有手续在进入机场15分钟后已经全部搞定。所有同学都以为我搞特殊,去了头等舱,其实你只需要在登机前24小时内,在网上花点时间就可以了。
来自青海的藏族女孩
上了飞机,旁边坐着的是一个看上去很特别的女孩儿。后来才知道她是青海来的藏族女孩儿,在爱丁堡大学学习农业。由于家很远,这是她两年来第一次回家后回英国。青海-北京-法兰克福-爱丁堡,可想而之她的行程是多么漫长。她在青海都是讲藏文的,由于她的语言优势,在她两个月的假期中,有一个月是在做翻译工作的。她在中文-藏文,藏文-英文之间做翻译,对象是来自欧洲的医生,他们有时会进入藏区或边远山区给当地的藏民治病。
她的穿着和普通人没有不同,只是仍保持了藏族佩带饰物的习惯。她的右手上带了只大金戒指,桃子形状,上面还雕刻了很多精致的小花。她自豪的告诉我,这是她的一个姐姐送她的,姐姐是做生意的。除此之外她还有两个姐姐和一个哥哥。她说,他们家在藏民里面是孩子很少的,有些人家都是有十几个兄弟姐妹的。对于汉族家庭来说,他们的生活和家族荣誉感,是现在的小孩没法体会到的。计划生育这个词,他们很熟悉同时也非常陌生。
到达柏林
经法兰克福转机,到达柏林是11个小时之后了。自由大学文化传播学院的同学开了两辆大众商务车来接我们。一切都安排的非常好,柏林的天气也很好,路上满眼都是绿油油的,每隔不远就有竞选海报映入眼帘,因为竞选日快要到了。
这时,大家都累了,因为已经是国内凌晨3点多了。希望大家都尽快回复体力,尽情享受柏林,体会这个当代欧洲文化之都。

日本战后美术 - 住友文彦SUMITOMO Fumihiko

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

*此文章发表在《青年视觉》杂志2007年10月刊上
这是我翻译的一片日本策展人-住友文彦先生的文章。他是这次’美丽新世界-日本当代视觉文化‘展览的策展人之一。这也是我们邀请他写这片文章的缘由。*

我想很多人都不得不开始承认亚洲美术正在受到全世界的瞩目。但是实际上,很多人在去了解西洋美术之前还对自己邻国的艺术知之甚少。哪怕只是填补这个认识上的隔阂,我希望可以在下面一气呵成的简短文稿中,概观日本的现代美术的发展流程。在这里,我暂且把引导日本战后美术史从“价值观的变迁”引向“多样化境界”的两种原动力假称为「文化的混淆性」,「私人的个人主义」。

文化的混淆性

日本在亚洲诸国中很早便向西方文化迈进,也有很多艺术家曾在西方文化与传统文化间的矛盾中挣扎过。最初,19世纪末,展览会制度和学术主义从西方传入,那曾是一个有了上述条件就可洋洋得意地宣称其为近代国家(社会)的时代。最终,很多人意识到那种国际化的表达方式和交换体系与根深蒂固的传统文化以及社会之间实际上背道而驰的。有的人困扰不堪,有的则反之把它作为武器。从1910年代开始到20年代的‘现代主义’非常重视人的内在,接受以个人主义为中心强调自我表现这一时期,就出现了这样的困扰。到了19世纪60年代,一个追赶世界美术的高速发展期随之而来,这种由两种文化并驻带来的困扰,进入了第二个阶段。 到了1990年后,日本出现了想要完全摆脱这种双重文化重叠情况的一代艺术家。也许,像这样的历史变迁,今天同样在亚洲其他国家和地区也能看到。

在这样的历史变迁中,60年代是个值得纪录和回顾的时期。这时的日本,正直经济飞速发展,在这个过程中,东京在1964年举办了奥运会,大阪则在1970年承办了世界博览会。社会发展前景的美好和光明在每个人的心中蔓延,没有人愿意去正视任何社会中的不利因素,任何事情都以经济发展为优先。在美术界,人们在50年代时所拥有的对于欧美艺术的自卑感,在这个时期逐渐得到实验性表现的尝试,从而也树立了可以与西方艺术界抗衡的自信心。 从这个时候起,荒川修作、河原温、草間弥生、小野洋子等很多艺术家赴美,例如很多艺术家在当时还参加了像Fluxus*这样的艺术运动。

* Fluxus (拉丁语) 本义为流动和变化。是60年代美国艺术运动里的一支,与波谱艺术和新达达主义齐名。由超过美,日,德等10个国家的艺术家参加。由设计师,音乐人等以多种艺术形式创作的艺术家组成,他们希望通过混合这些艺术表现手法来尝试使艺术创新.* (译者注解)

但是, 这个阶段的日本艺术界还没有确立自己的制度,美术馆的收藏量和展览的专业水准还很底。即使在这样的情况下,不得不承认一些被称做地下文化的作品,大量的在美术馆和艺术中心等一些公共场所得到展示。原本只为一少部分人所认同的艺术表现形式,逐渐被大多数人所接触和欣赏。同一时期,在西方社会被称之为High Art(上层艺术)这样的概念,可以说在日本的美术体系中是不存在的。上世纪60年代,影像,音乐,舞台等多种艺术形式的混杂交融,黑皮士或subculture(非主流文化)的介入也使这样的文化混淆性增强。

到了70年代,日本社会乃至艺术家们已经渐渐从自卑感中走出来,他们开始在摸索中创造独立的文化和艺术形式。‘物派’(monoha) – 一种在当时用原始木材和石材创作装置作品的运动,也是在这个时期得到广泛传播的。同时,日本各地的一些城市开始大量开设美术馆,这个举措使当时海外的现代艺术作品被介绍到日本本土。 从这个阶段开始,Fine Art (纯艺术) 已与其他艺术类别区别开来,换句话说,艺术已经成为了专门领域里的一门学科。

但是,具有强烈混淆性的艺术现状并没有消失。这是因为非主流文化,音乐和戏剧等周边文化仍一直有自己的生存空间。任凭经济飞速的发展,人们在日常生活中却没有感同身受这样的变化。很多人认为,由于这种急速的社会变化,使漫画这个贴近生活的表达方式有了一定的观众群。对于在价值等级中存在的西方美术规范下的艺术,不可否认的是漫画和动画是更贴近生活和原于生活的,经济成长和在国际上自信心的增强,并不能够说明所有人都会鉴赏所谓的艺术。这些处于边缘,即将逝去的事物反而逐步得到了魅力的展现。 一些想像地球以外生物和唤起对于未来的想像力的作品随即出现,例如,「銀河鉄道999」、「MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM」、「AKIRA」等。同时,少女漫画也起到了不可忽视的作用,因为它注重细节,对于弱小给于肯定。所有这些都从社会中的既成概念,道德差别等等繁多的制约中脱离出来,并自由的章显出其魅力。值得注意的是这也影响了很多消除性别差距,形成自由表现风格的时装设计师的出现。结果,在80年代泡沫经济下动摇了的巨额财富中,边缘文化起到的作用和功绩在同一领域的实践中要远大于纯艺术。

「私的個人主義」

1990年以后的日本,迎来了社会经济的不景气,同时巫术和大地震所带来的不安感也渐渐袭来。为了避免过度的社会压力和不安感,很多人倾向于把自己封闭在幻想世界里。原因是人们很容易受到电视,杂志等等大众媒体传播的影响和诱导,并且可以看出一种讽刺性质的心理。不管怎样,在高度的资本化和传媒化社会仍在持续上升的同时,却引发了一种倾向于自我封闭下的‘强调自我’的趋势。在这种情况下,产生了一种与成年人相比更强调孩童气在社会中的作用的见解。比如村上隆;奈良美智;会田誠等作家的作品都受到青睐,这样的一个趋势也在社会中逐渐形成。由此出现了一种不积极的参与社会活动;却以孩子式的‘独自玩耍’形式;以从自己身边的事物或与朋友之间的关系开始,表达思想和创作的倾向。这样使人们脱离了与整体社会价值观的距离,这种强调自我感官的东西与西方近代个人主义所信仰的东西是完全不一样的。这样的主体其实不是主体,反而是渐渐向周围扩散的弱势群体,就像我在前边叙述过的一样,这样的主体强调的是消除性别区别。

到了80年代末90年代初,‘Dumb Type*’ 脱影而出。他们创造了进入90年代的艺术新气象。他们之间没有确立主导者,而是在多种艺术形式综合的基础上发表很多优秀的行为艺术作品。从尝试在艺术作品中运用高科技手段以增加城市感的作品,到反映现实社会中的差别和偏见,这样一系列的形成自由且含有强烈艺术语言的作品对后来成长起来的艺术家们都影响颇深。

*Dumb Type, 1984 以京都市立艺术大学学生为中心成立。他们活跃在世界各地的美术馆和艺术中心,是开拓新艺术领域的杰出艺术群体的代表。他们当中有来自影像,纯艺术,音乐,设计,建筑,舞蹈等多个领域的成员,他们在一起制作创作计划;演出,装置作品,出版印刷物,制作CD等。近年来,他们多在海外活动和创作。多重视人性与高科技的平衡,并在这一领域开展活动。*(译者注解)

很多人认为,艺术作品的变化能够反映其生存的前景和变化的巨大价值观。 拉开距离来看社会,一种捕捉世界和自己的真情实感间不一致的作品渐渐淡出。人们开始注重和强调一种在个人想像力中发现世界的倾向。很难说这是一种逃避还是一种创新。

我是即将在北京和广州举行的‘美丽新世界’这个展览的的策划人之一。这次展览即介绍日本的艺术现状,更重视日本90年代后出现的社会变化。选择作品的标准和展览的构成,既表明艺术家所处的社会状况, 也表明日本社会所经历的20世纪后半期这个时代的特征。这一切也许和中国当代艺术兴起的过程有相似之处,我们希望更多的观众可以来观看这次展览。

撰稿:住友文彦
翻译:李诗

A fake Conversation

Monday, April 9th, 2007

The following two quotes are taken from the March 2007 edition of Art in America, to which I have responded.

Richard Vine: Before the market explosion, critics like Li Xianting and independent curators like Fei Dawei, Feng Boyi and Gu Zhenqing played vital roles in identifying – or inventing – significant movements and highlighting the work of selected artists. What has become of those functions today? Does intellectual validation still matter, or has criticism become primarily work done for hire?

Christopher Phillips: As is the case in many places where contemporary art institutions are in their infancy, art-community members in China inevitably wear many hats. Someone who is an artist may also be writing critics, organizing museum exhibitions, running a commercial gallery, advising foreign collectors on a commission basis and teaching in an art academy. There is only a grudging awareness that these overlapping roles might involve conflicts of interests. All this will probably change as the Chinese art world becomes more professionalized in the coming decades. Nevertheless, at the moment enormous temptations are presented by the flood of money that’s rushing around in the Chinese art scene, and I think that very few curators now refrain from privately buying and selling works.

Shi Li: I don’t see why an Artist cannot also be critic, curator, collector, dealer or whatever they want to be at the same time. Especially, among today’s international art practice, it does not surprise me if one plays different roles in his or her life. In terms of becoming a ‘professionalised’, it seems to me one will be more likely to restrict oneself from accessing other interacted fields. ‘Conflicts of interests’ may occur, such as a scholar may be distracted from teaching by putting too much effort of curating exhibitions – however, theory and practise are good to be preformed at the same time. This is similar to why a good course in a university should be combined with a lab. Another example could be more serious than arranging one’s schedule, which is about the evaluation of a piece of art. This concerns one’s morality towards art, as one may argue that a curator may select artworks by their prices, or artists may produce their art by the whims of the art market. However, Chinese contemporary art environment may have its own function and system depending on its own situation. Perhaps, what the Chinese contemporary art needs is not a judgement but encouragement and advice.

Worrying about the Chinese contemporary art market

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

In my previous journals, I have discussed how the foreign art collectors have become eagerly interested in collecting Chinese contemporary art. By doing so, this worldwide trend is actually creating a new ideology, which is affecting the valorisation of Chinese contemporary art. Or perhaps, we could put this another way around, there has not been a indigenous system of evaluating Chinese contemporary art, nevertheless, it will be formed by the Art Markets, to be more specific, it will be formed by Art collectors and dealers. Perhaps, one could say that this happens everywhere in the world. Why is China so special to be singled out?

There are two issues raised here for the Chinese to consider. Firstly, if an art market has no rules and no standard of evaluations, it more likely to have a shakeout whenever the rules are established; another danger is that the concept of the best Chinese contemporary art is being judged by a small group of people who are mainly from the West, and will be evaluated by the only norm available – money. The idea of the ‘artist’ may be tarnished with a bad reputation for being wishing to become rich.

Another Shock! – If you invite me, why should I bring an army?

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Another Shock!
If you invite me, why should I bring an army?

This year, when the YBA show was held in Guangzhou, with the aim of encouraging Young Chinese Artists to be more creative and groundbreaking, one may sense the new Cultural imperialism is coming in by the back door. According to the Chinese website China.org.cn One of the aims of this show is to help Chinese audience to improve their understanding and taste towards contemporary art. I feel it’s questionable to accept this statement. I am considering how people in china judge contemporary art. What can be considered as a great piece of art should be based on different cultures and different esthetic evaluations. People from different culture background might have different appreciations of art. it is important to be acquainted with the YBA show but it should not be seen as a standard of judging what is the best Contemporary art. Different philosophical and develop mental environment provides different creative mentalities of producing artworks. It seems that creating one aesthetic principle for the entire world – cannot be accepted. The ‘Aftershock’ provides a great opportunity in presenting a standard western viewpoint of contemporary art to Chinese people. However, its didactic function should be considered again. Any kinds of art can be based on its historical milieu, and constructed through its unique authenticity. There should not be a hierarchy established among contemporary art practice. It is true that the YBA generation had its significant role at the end of the last century, and the artists are still active among today’s art practice in the UK. Like many other conceptual artists in China (such as Ai Weiwei and Qiu Zhijie), the various thoughts and concerns within their art have been thinking through different spiritualities.

To be continued…

‘Aftershock’ shocked me!!!

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

‘Aftershock’ shocked me!!!
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First Shock!
Tracey Emin’s underwear and condoms are missing…

I was so shocked after finding that Tracey Emin’s underwear and condoms are missing from the ‘Aftershock‘ – ‘Contemporary British Art’ Show in Guangzhou and Beijing, which has been showing since last December, and will be continuing till May. According to the article from china.org.cn, Pi Li, who is one of the curators of the show, explained that this is owing to the difficulties of transportation. What a wonderful excuse – it’s made the piece lose its value completely. It’s arguable the piece has lost its value without these significant elements – underwear and condoms, which Emin chose the first time she created the piece. When Charles Saatchi valued Emin’s ‘My Bed’ at 150,000£, these elements must have represented a significant part of that price. The artwork has lost a part of its original value. The ‘My Bad’ presented in China, is not Tracey Emin’s bed any more, it could be anyone else’s – you could say it has been castrated.

To be continued…

YCA era is on its way…? – continued

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

What can Saatchi bring to (or take away from) China?

What can Saatchi bring to China? Money. This answer might be too direct and obvious. Although it is true that the contemporary Chinese art market has been very much occupied by the westerners, Charles Saatchi as a trailblazer has more power of changing the course of events. Infect, Chinese contemporary art needs the financial support too. Chinese contemporary artists need to be supported to be able to develop their work further and to be able to compete among the worldwide contemporary art environment. However, money is just the first step for people like Saatchi to get their feet in the Chinese door. One might say that Saatchi’s money has more power, which indicates ‘knowledge’ at the same time. This is because, his choice may influence many others, and his direction may manipulate many others to follow.

What can be taken away from China? The answer is still Money. One day, if the future YCAs finally become part of national heritage, Saatchi will be the one who owns the major part of it. This year, when the YBA show was held in Guangzhou, with the aim of encouraging Young Chinese Artists to be more creative and groundbreaking, one may sense the new imperialism is coming in by the back door.

To be continued…

YCA era is on its way…?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

YCA era is on its way…?

I have been wondering why there have been no visitor guides in Chinese at the Tate modern or many other major museums and galleries in London. Not because there is no one interest in Chinese contemporary art. It might be the other way around, people think – there are less Chinese interested in Art, or to be specifically, contemporary art.

Charles Saatchi, who was instrumental in the YBA phenomena, has changed history again. Before his new Gallery has opened, his website team has already translated the Saatchi Gallery website into Chinese. Both the English and Chinese accessible Website doesn’t only demonstrate the internationally well-known gallery itself; it also accurately reflects the attitude of the Western art market. Why? There are reasons as below:

What is Stuart?

Stuart is a website, which created by Saatchi Gallery. Its aim is to provide a platform, which allows artists to present artworks from all over the world. According to the New York Times, there are 23 Chinese art students who presented their work in Stuart so far. As Saatchi says, ‘There are so many artists in China who want their work to be seen’. And also, the students want to know what’s going on around the world.

Behind the prefect idea…

Stuart sounds prefect! Perhaps everyone would think this is a prefect idea that young students don’t have to deal with local galleries anymore, instead, they can easily open an account and post their work on the Saatchi Gallery website. At the same time, many international galleries and dealers can also make direct contact with artists if they are interested in their work. It is free (by which I mean their appear to be no restrictions), democratic and easy to access. It may attract more art collectors to the site, and it is also providing possibilities that many Young Chinese artists’ work might be collected at an early age. However, there are also concerns, which cannot be ignored.

The phenomenon of the YBA (Young British artists) transforms to the YCA (Young Chinese Artists)

How do you value a piece of art? The most direct evaluation may be by price. At the end of the last century, when the art world were still speculating whether Tracey Emin was a great artist, Saatchi gave the answer by adding ‘My Bed’ to his collection for 150,000£. With his foresight and wealthy background, Saatchi had enough clout in making part of Western art history. Today, in tandem with a dramatically expending Chinese economy, the Chinese art market also wields great power of drawing attention from collectors from all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Charles Saatchi is still at the top of the list.

After Saatchi has collected many Chinese contemporary artworks from the avant-gardes, such as Fang Lijun and Zhang Xiaogang. He turned his attention onto Young Chinese Artists. Is this a sign that this could be a repetition of the YBA phenomena in China? (In this sense, the term YBA should be written in YCA) One might think this is great as without the government support and limited promotion through galleries, Chinese Contemporary Art has its own way to survive by presenting internationally and being collected by foreigners (mainly American and British).

A western discourse might be created in China.

However, things always have pros and cons. A western discourse might be created in China. I have many questions in mind: What is a great piece of Art? Why art is being so easily judged by its price? Is there not a danger that Chinese Contemporary Art will be diverted into western criteria i.e. that what is the best Art is based on a western point of view? Who is making Chinese contemporary art history? Or the term Art History will no longer exist, which will be replaced by Visual Culture. Then, this is must be an international one. The Chinese have not undergone the Enlightenment, Modernity or Postmodernity. One could argue that the whole idea of ‘grand narrative’ does not exist in China, or it does but it is the different one and within the different ‘discourse’. I guess that might be one of the reasons why Chinese contemporary art is so fascinating to the westerners.

To be continued…

论文中的一段,回应宝贝老师的文章‘大国崛起’-关于文化殖民

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

论文中的一段,回应宝贝老师的文章‘大国崛起’-关于文化殖民

Culture colonization the relationship between the colonizer and the colony

Having been very much inspired by Edward Said, Gandhi pointed out that ‘Postcoloniality, we might say, is just another name for the globalization of cultures and histories.’(Gandhi, 1998, p.126) As nineteenth-century colonization has faded from our memory of history, post-colonialists are well aware of a new kind of cross-cultural ‘postcoloniality’, which without hostilities, pillage and occupation but rather cultural, educational and spiritual influence implanted in contemporary society, which can be regarded as an invisible form of cultural imperialism. Regarding cultural imperialism, Ella Shohat and Robert Stam argue that,

… the third world always seems to lag behind, not only economically but culturally, condemned to a perpetual game of catch-up, in which it can only repeat on another register the history of the ‘advanced’ world. This system ignores the ‘systems theory’ that sees all the ‘worlds’ as coeval, interlinked, living the same historical moment (but under diverse modalities of subordination or domination). (Shohat and Stam, 2002, p.38)

They elaborate this point further, ‘ like the sociology of “modernisation” and the economics of “development,” the aesthetics of modernism (and postmodernism) often covertly assume a telos toward which “Third world” cultural practices are presumed to be evolving.’ (ibid.)

From Shohat and Stam’s point of view, the so-called ‘first world’ Modernisation system and its effects on other cultures should be questioned. It cannot be seen as an advanced goal, which the rest of the world (non-western countries) has to follow. The debate here will be centred on the concept that a Modernized ideal is not necessarily the same as a modern ideal. There is still a relationship of cultural colonization between the colonizer and colony.

The identity of Chinese contemporary art
I will now turn to Chinese contemporary art to show how colonization has affected its identity.

In China, there has been a dramatic increase in interest in contemporary art in the last 30 years. There is a question whether contemporary Chinese art is a replication of the western contemporary art or whether it has its own Chinese identity.

In relation to Chinese contemporary art practice, there seem to be three aspects of contemporary postcolonial thought which appear to have influenced it.

Establishing an international image and reputation
First, a growing body of Chinese contemporary art attempts to follow similar western patterns of establishing an international image and reputation. Accompanying the rapidly developed economy in the last thirty-years, there has been a realization of the influence of cultural colonization upon major cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou The thriving contemporary Chinese art scene has reflected some kinds of western art world ideologies, and many contemporary institutions such as Shanghai Art Museum have followed similar institutional traditions as Europe since the end of the 20th century. For instance, the Venice Biennale has successfully been held in Europe for more than 100-years. In recent years, the major cities in China such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing have all held art biennials, which the Chinese government has encouraged in order to attract attention from all over the world.

Who is more familiar with Chinese contemporary art
Secondly, it seems that the westerners are more familiar with Chinese contemporary art than the Chinese by looking at certain phenomena.
After searching and observing many Chinese art institutions and artists’ websites, one phenomenon is that their websites are generally translated into English. By looking at their biography in these websites, the exhibitions are held equally overseas and in China, or often they hold more international exhibitions than ones in their own country, places such as America, Japan and many countries in Europe.

Furthermore, there are foreign collectors, museums and galleries, many from the ‘first world’ especially America and Europe, who have been collecting numerous outstanding Chinese contemporary artworks in recent years. And this tendency is increasing every year, as there are more people from the art circle or even outside paying attention to Chinese contemporary art. For instance, many contemporary Chinese artworks can be found in the well-known Christies and Sotheby’s auctions today. Both of these companies established overseas offices in major cities of China. This might be because on the one hand, the Chinese art market is becoming increasingly popular; on the other hand, it has become another major resource for them. For example Sotheby’s in New York put Chinese contemporary art on the block as an individual sales category for the first time just one year ago (Richard Vine in Vine, 2007, p.50).

However, there are positives and negatives if Chinese contemporary art practice remains the same. The fact is that there are less Chinese people collecting contemporary art than westerners. The reason could be either people cannot afford these artworks (perhaps because these works are brought to the international market where western buyers are willing to pay a higher price than Chinese collectors) or even those who are wealthy have no intention of collecting contemporary art, owing to the fact they are not aware of its significance and value.

Another reason could be the absence of an aesthetical education of what is contemporary Chinese art by which I mean having a culture of aesthetic appreciation of contemporary art in general. This may be because of the lack of world-class museums in China and the major movement of Chinese artefacts to the west in the 19th century.

The well-known Chinese artist Chen Danqing reminds us that among what is preceived to be the best ten museums, such as the Berlin Museum in Germany, the Maya Museum in Mexico or the British Museum in the UK, there are none of in Asia which has the largest population in the world. (Chen, 2005, p.19) Without more local facilities, the next generation will have the same ‘destiny’ as the Chinese now.

They will also have to fly almost half the globe to visit places such as the British Museum to look at the art from their ancestors. So instead of permanently working individually, Chinese contemporary artists should encourage and help the government construct an aesthetical education system to collect contemporary art works in order to provide an artistic environment and also educate young generations. It will help change the sense of art of the nation. Chen Danqing says, art is visual culture, if we cannot perceive it originally, is just like deaf men talking about music. (Chen, 2005, p.18)

Feminism studies: Compare and contrast two competing accounts of ‘sexual difference’ – between Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Part – 5 Bringing new thoughts

‘Sexual difference’ as a ‘burning issue’ has been controversial since the end of last century. Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler are two of the most influential feminist thinkers who hold different opinions of how society has changed the concept of ‘women’ and also deconstructed ‘sexual difference’ among humanity. I have been studying those differences by analyzing key terms such as ‘culture over nature’, sex and gender and ‘sexual difference’. It seems that Irigaray’s theory was based on a historical point of view, which rejected Freudian theory of binary opposition of ‘women’ and ‘men’. She emphasises women’s value and position in the western society in the 1980’s. Conversely, Butler focuses on the ‘multiplicity’ of ‘gender identity’, whose argument seems more relevant to ‘sexual difference’ in general (with respect to racism and homosexuality) today.

While Irigaray and Butler are fundamental to Western thought, in my opinion, Globalization has broken the boundaries between people who have different identities and come from different cultures. In this sense, people who are from non-western cultures may have various opinions about ‘sexual difference’, which may bring new insights to the discussion.