China at the Venice Biennale: Art and Politics: Conference: The Politics of Display: Collateral Events and Paviillions at the Venice Biennale

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contribution


    The Venice Biennale was set up to showcase Italian art in the historical context of European communities developing their national identities. This process of nationalism was accompanied by colonialism. It was in this context that Venice decided to promote itself by showcasing Italian art alongside the art of other nations. National pavilions were thus offered to participating nations who wanted to take place and showcase their own art. These nations were given the right to own and manage their national pavilion, almost as they saw fit. However, not all countries were invited or wanted to participate in the first instance. Since then the number of participating countries has been growing steadily, but not all national requests have been granted. China joined in 2005 under the condition that Taiwan will no longer be given the right to hold a national exhibition. However, the collateral events have shown work by artists from China well before China's official pavilion. It was predominantly Europeans working in China who invited well known European curators who in turn invited artists from China to participate in collateral events.

    What the Venice Biennale has shown was the gap between the art promoted by European curators and that promoted by the official government. The paper will focus on the case study of China and will explore the relationship between participation in collateral events and the official pavilion. It will engage with the very different representations of China the official and unofficial, including the participation of artists from China in other nations' pavilion such as Ai Weiwe in the German. The paper will show the different narratives of art and its role in construction national and collective identities which emerged out of the official participation of China and that of artists participating in the collateral events.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Politics of Display: Collateral Events and Pavillions at the Venice Biennale
    Subtitle of host publicationUniversity of St Andrews
    Publication statusUnpublished - Nov 2017


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