The dynamic interrelations between visual arts and urbanization in contemporary Mainland China have transformed the position and the potential for innovative artistic and creative practices in the production of alternative meanings in and of the city. Initiated by various stakeholders, artistic and creative practices not only raise critical awareness on socio-political issues of Chinese urbanization, but also actively reshape the urban living spaces. This kind of formation of new collaborations, agencies, aesthetics and cultural production sites opens up new possibilities also for foreign artists and practitioners to facilitate diverse forms of cultural activism as they challenge the dominant ways of interpreting social changes. Through a conceptual lens of translocal site-responsiveness, the aim is to deconstruct local/global dichotomies and to contribute to a more rounded understanding of visual arts in China. The analysis of selected examples reveals the interdependence between the varied forms of agency, manifestations, and site/place/space and contextualizes these negotiation processes in both local and global discourses. I posit that urban creativity, whether created by foreigners, locals, or in collaboration, can provide a meaningful engagement with urban environments.
Minna Valjakka is Adjunct Professor in Art History and Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki and Senior Research Fellow in the Asian Urbanisms Cluster at the Asia Research Institute (NUS). She received her PhD in Art History (2011) and MA in East Asian Studies (2005) from the University of Helsinki. In her postdoctoral research, Dr Valjakka has geographically expanded her expertise into artistic and creative practices in urban public space in East and Southeast Asian cities. Through an interdisciplinary approach bridging together Art Studies and Urban Studies, she examines urban creativity as a response to the distinctive trajectories of geopolitical circumstances, developments in arts and cultural policies, and translocal mediations. Her recent publications include a co-edited book Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China: Urbanized Interface (with Meiqin Wang). Besides her academic work, Dr Valjakka collaborates with museums by curating and counselling exhibitions and contributing to exhibition catalogues.
This event is presented as part of the Korea in the World, the World in Korean Studies project at York University.