|Title||Modernity, nationalism and global marginalisation: representing the nation in contemporary Taiwanese art exhibitions|
This thesis describes and analyses the development of the most prestigious large- scale exhibitions of the Taipei Fine Arts Museums from its opening in 1983 until 2009, concentrating on the Trends of Modern Art in the R.O.C. series of the 1980s , the introduction of the Taipei Biennial in 1992, and the Taiwan Pavilion in Venice from 1995 until 2009. Its focus lies on the transformation of the museum space and the status of the work of art. Several threads of questions run through this thesis: an attempt to analyse and illuminate the specific modernity and its inherent contradictions that characterized the museum space; the specific status of the object of art (and the artist) within the museum space; and lastly the image of the nation and its transformations as it is projected through these exhibitions. The first part of this thesis concentrates on how modernism was enacted in the first museum of modern and contemporary art in Taiwan (and one of the first in Asia), how a Chinese modernism was anointed through the exhibitionary system, and how this was challenged and finally abolished in favour of a new exhibitionary system, the Taipei Biennial. This part also analyses the rupture between those two exhibitions, and how the latter inaugurated a new and different status of the work of art, not merely an aesthetic object, but an element of a cultural narrative and discourse.
The second part of the thesis shifts its focus on how the work of art was re-framed through the discourse of Taiwanese identity. Using as a starting point the writings of Benedict Anderson, the idea of the nation as a universe or microcosm of knowledge is used to describe a new pattern of representation of the nation that emerged since 1995, with the inauguration of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This part of the thesis concentrates on how this new and pluralist pattern of nationalism was created, repeated, and re-confirmed, but also re-written over the years, projecting an archetypical image of an “imagined community” or a microcosm of knowledge of the nation, rooted in the past, projected into the future, and centred around a synthesis of the nature of its territory and the urban experience of the capital.
The third part of the thesis describes how the subaltern position of local artists and curators in relation to the museum have re-shaped their analysis of the nation, and how the notion of centrality of the nation was de-constructed once the question of the voice of a nation, but most of all of its curators and artists within a globalised world came to the fore.