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Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Lee Bul  

Joan Kee

(b Yongwol, Kangwon Province, Jan 25, 1964).

Korean mixed media and performance artist. Lee studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul. Upon graduation Lee staged performance-based works in venues throughout Seoul and Tokyo during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these performances concerned the subject of the human body and deployed the strategy of masquerade to parody and hyperbolize masculine representations of women. At this time Lee also began creating sculptural installations that marked the beginning of her long-standing use of such non-traditional materials as resin, sequins, foam, and rubber. Such materials were often used for their symbolic associations as well as their formal properties.

From around 1996, Lee moved towards an exploration of the imagined body. The references that Lee drew upon became increasingly abstract, although she consistently maintained her interest in exploring the role of formal qualities, such as colour, scale, and texture, in producing meaning. Lee moved from works such as I Need You/Hydra...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Great Britain.

Born 1965, in China.

Performance artist, installation artist.

Cai Yuan immigrated to Great Britain in the 1980s, obtaining art degrees from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. He is best known for his partnership with his fellow Chinese artist and émigré Xi Jianjun (also known as JJ Xi) in the performance duo known as Mad for Real. Cai and Xi found fame in ...

Article

Cao Fei  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1978, in Guangzhou, China.

Photographer, performance artist. Video, multimedia.

Cao Fei graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, having attended middle school at the same institution four years earlier. She was a co-founder of the partnership Ou Ning + Cao Fei. Her early photography and subsequent interactive sound and video-game environments, or ‘machinima’, emerged from her initial interest in commercial advertising and electronic entertainment videos. Her works often blur reality by involving virtual cosplay figures who imitate manga superhero figures, often artist friends or youths. These performances take place in the urban environment and engage the art world with virtual economies, as well as linking to the rapid modernization and consumerism emerging within China since the turn of the century. She has become known for her ongoing experimental, animated, ethnographic documentary that engages the online world of Second Life to create the virtual RMB City. The video was first shown at the Venice Biennale (China Tracy Pavilion, ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the United States and China.

Born 1955, in Shanghai.

Performance artist, installation artist. Mixed media.

Wenda studied at the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts, from which he graduated in 1976, and subsequently studied for his M.F.A. at the China Academy of Art under the renowned painter Lu Yanshao. After graduating in ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Quanzhou, Dec 8, 1957).

Chinese installation artist. Cai studied at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, completing his degree in stage design in 1985. He is best known for ephemeral, large-scale explosion-works using gunpowder—a medium he began to experiment with in China and often explained as a childhood reference to witnessing skirmishes between China and Taiwan along what was known as the Fujian Front.

In the 1980s, he applied gunpowder to canvas, which he then lit to create bold, charred designs. When Cai emigrated to Japan in 1986, he began to use gunpowder for environmental installations. Since 1989 he called these works Projects for Extraterrestrials. Cai believed that most explosions visible from space have been related to war, and that his work sends a non-violent message. A good example is The Horizon from the Pan Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14 (1994), executed off the coast of Iwaki, a small town in Japan, where Cai installed a 5000-metre trail of gunpowder in the ocean that illuminated the horizon. The work evoked the experience of living in this small fishing village, where the ocean is a central part of everyday life. Such a conceptually charged, yet rudimentary application of gunpowder, characterizes Cai’s works created in Japan....

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1964, in Hong Kong.

Performance artist. Mixed media, multimedia.

Ho Siu Kee received a B.A. in Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1989), an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan (...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Anyang, Jan 23, 1965).

Chinese performance artist, active also in the USA . Zhang studied art at Henan University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In the early 1990s he moved to Da Shan Zi (also known as Beijing’s East Village), an area on the outskirts of the city inhabited by a community of artists and itinerant workers from all over the country. Along with his peers, Zhu Ming (b 1972) and Ma Liuming (b 1969), he began to stage performances that became a central part of the activities of the artist community. Zhang is considered one of the pre-eminent performance artists of his generation in China.

In the mid-1990s, performances such as 12 Square Metres (1994), 65KG (1994) and To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain (1995) became synonymous with experimental art practice in China. In 12 Square Metres (...

Article

Rachel K. Ward

(b Gifu, 1966).

Japanese electronic composer and sound artist, active also in France. He is best known for composing reductionist sounds of extreme frequencies, employing sine waves, electronic sounds, and white noise; these are often presented as ambient soundscapes in immersive installations made of light and/or projected visualizations of data. Ikeda originally trained in Japan as an economist. He began composing music in the 1990s, focusing on Minimalism with a curiosity for the duality of mathematics, specifically the binary patterns of 0s and 1s of digital software. His compositions continued the investigations of John Cage and Morton Feldman in exploring the potential differences between tones. Ikeda’s initial albums were +/- (1996) and 0°C (1998), which resonated with the glitch electronic scene emerging at that time. In 2000 Ikeda’s album Matrix, on the Touch label, attracted considerable attention as an interactive electronic work. Ikeda presented ten 5-minute long tones affected by the listener’s proximity. These were followed by a second series of tones made from orchestral instruments to produce overlapping sounds. The album explored time and tone and generated a wider discussion in the music industry about the relationship between sound and new media formats. Ikeda later produced the albums ...

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1957, in Taegu.

Installation artist, sculptor, performance artist, video artist.

Kim Soo-ja settled in New York. She uses Korean cloth in her work, which she folds, crumples or hangs; for her the fabric has symbolic weight, one tied to the culture of her country. The cloth becomes a metaphorical relation with her body. Rolled in a bundle to form a ...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1964, in Yongwol.

Sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, draughtswoman.

Lee Bul graduated from Hong-Ik University in Seoul with a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture. She settled in Seoul. Lee seeks to explore feminine archetypes by creating a universe inhabited by monsters and imaginary creatures based on Korean legends and contemporary technology (notably cyborgs), or manga imagery. She has also used her own nude body in her performances. Whether making unliveable, solitary cubicles - as in her karaoke pods - or strolling about in one or other of her outlandish costumes, she tries to destabilise established values through her objects and creatures. For instance, in her sculpture ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Beijing.

Born 1969, in Huangshi (Hubei Province), China.

Painter, photographer, performance artist.

Ma Liuming graduated from the Department of Oil Painting at the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in Wuhan in 1991. Ma is best known as a member of the Beijing East Village collective, which worked on the outskirts of Beijing in the early 1990s. A pioneer of performance art in China, Ma focused his practice on issues of gender and sexuality through the use of his own body. During his time in the East Village, Ma developed a feminine alter ego, Fen-Ma Liuming. His performances primarily focused on domestic activities and often featured the act of cooking, such as in ...

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 16 January 1957, in Tokyo.

Installation artist, performance artist.

Miyajima recreates the frenzy of modern life through his art, making installations of electronic components and digital LED counters which create the effect of vibration and agitation.

2000, Between Cinema and a Hard Place...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

Reviser Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...

Article

Kevin Concannon

(b Tokyo, Feb 18, 1933).

Japanese multimedia artist, composer, and musician, active also in the USA and the UK. Born into a prominent Japanese banking family, Ono spent her childhood living in both America and Japan following her father’s banking career. She became the first female student to enter the philosophy course at Gakushiun University in Tokyo in 1952. At the end of the year, the family moved to Scarsdale, NY, and Ono enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1955, she eloped with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi (b 1933), dropping out of her course and moving to Manhattan, where she became involved with avant-garde art and music communities. From December 1960 through to June 1961, she hosted a series of performances organized with La Monte Young at her downtown loft. A one-person exhibition at Fluxus founder George Maciunas’s AG Gallery and a major solo concert at Carnegie Recital Hall followed in 1961. An original participant in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1977, in Fujian, China.

Conceptual artist, performance artist. Local everyday subjects, the body, maps.

Pak migrated to Hong Kong in 1984, at the age of seven. He studied fine arts and theology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and graduated in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Berlin and Beijing.

Born 1954, in Qingdao (Shandong Province), China.

Performance artist. Mixed media and multimedia.

Qin Yufen grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China. In the 1970s, she experimented with abstraction and participated in the exhibitions of the No Name Painting Society, founded by Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu. Qin Yufen was one of the few female members of the society. By the early 1980s, Qin Yufen had already developed ideas for a number of installation projects. Many of these projects were executed after she moved to Berlin in ...