The Transcultural Curator: Translating Networked Curatorial Practices in the Chinese Context since 1980

Marsden, Rachel Elizabeth Mary (2017) The Transcultural Curator: Translating Networked Curatorial Practices in the Chinese Context since 1980. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Initiated from discussions of key curators and exhibitions at the end of the Cultural Revolution, this thesis explores cultural translation through networked curatorial practices in the Chinese context since 1980. In response to increasing local (Chinese) to global (international) exchange, termed as ‘glocal’, I examine different curatorial practices and strategies used to translate exhibitions of avant-garde and contemporary Chinese art towards the development and definition of the role of the transcultural curator. A framework for translation is developed from Homi K. Bhabha’s three-tiered, postcolonial methodology of ‘Third Space’ in parallel with Ray Oldenburg’s theory of third place, whilst rooted in the development of social and cultural networks within Fei Xiaotong’s concept of Chineseness. From these perspectives, it is argued that guanxi self-reflexively provides a basis through which networked curatorial practices can be understood.

As a non-Chinese curator and researcher, this thesis is crucially informed by a practice-led component to the research methodology. Responding to China’s unique moment of “museumification”, I establish The Temporary to actively and explicitly reflect on my curatorial practice in relation to research findings. This platform functions as a site of “research curating” (based on the construction of networks of practice) and “curating research” (mapping the action archive), to test and evaluate curatorial strategies, whilst revealing a new internal logic of cultural translation in the Chinese context.

This nexus of research explored through theory, concept and practice aims to create a unique set of definitions and arguments to define the role of the transcultural curator. In turn, it presents a series of considerations to be implemented when curating exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art in an international context whilst contributing to the ongoing debate in the field.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: To my academic family at Birmingham City University and those who have since moved onto to other institutions. To my supervisors, Joshua (Jiehong) Jiang and Darren Newbury (now at University of Brighton) - thank you for your advice, support and whole-hearted dedication to my journey both personally and professionally, no matter the timeframe, country or time zone. To Tim Wall, Bashir Makhoul, Lawrence Green, Sian Vaughan, David Durling (now at Coventry University), Yanyan Wang, Yvette Burn, Heather Connelly, Beccy Boydell, Sukhi Johal, Shelley Fray, Noel Alonso - thank you for underpinning my research with knowledge and structure to get my PhD thesis through to submission. To those who were part of my fieldwork research adventure, and time of working and living in China (2009-12). A list too long to mention everyone by name - thank you for helping to establish my practice in the field and becoming my international family. To the translators who helped me understand what I may have missed. To Yu Chen, Tan Wang, You Feng, Isabel Lu and Alex Yiu - thank you to you and your collective multilingual minds. To Julia Burdett and Mel Campbell for proof-reading my dense and over descriptive language because sometimes I just can’t stop talking about the world sometimes. To Adam Grüning for the original branding and design of The Temporary logo. To Andy Cooke, Chrish Dunne and Jon Fu at Design by Weather - thank you for designing ‘The Temporary’ website and The Temporary: 01 catalogue. - iv - To those in the academic field of curating and contemporary Chinese art who supported the development of this research, including its practice-led outcome ‘The Temporary’. To Mona Casey (ARTicle Gallery), Sarah Fisher and Sally Lai (then Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA)), Katie Hill, Andrew Bracey, Su Fahy, Maggie Ayliffe, Marsha Meskimmon, Johanna Hällsten, Nixi Cura and et al. To my new academic family at The University of Melbourne for giving me encouragement during the final push. To Rachel Fensham, Stephanie Trigg, Charles Green, Kate MacNeill, Alana Kushnir and Nur Shkembi - thank you. Most importantly to Christiaan De Beukelaer for making the final weeks of the puzzle “make sense”. To my “box of trust” friends (too many to mention) for always saying the things I often could not think, being there regardless of distance, and for your relentless motivation in real time and online - always appreciated and will never be forgotten. Finally, to those I hold close. To the Marsdens, Pauline, my Godparents Richard and (the late) Ruth - thank you for the unconditional love and support night and day. To my late Grandpa, Poppa, for always asking what was next, and for feeding my creative mind at every step. To Nick Manasseh (Manaxi) for never questioning, always understanding and constantly dreaming between the mountains and the sea. Finally, to Momma Sooz - thank you for helping me be the best version of myself. Here’s to being a cultural nomad, “passport-ready”. To the next chapter in the book of my academic career … let’s see what I write next. Dedicated to Helen, because if I can “cut it” this far, you can too. To spoons and academia.
14 November 2017Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: China, Chinese Art, contemporary Chinese Art, Transcultural Studies, Curating, exhibition-making, exhibition histories, curatorial theory, Translation, Cultural Translation, Glocal, Globalisation, Global Studies
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-01 - information services
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-04 - languages and area studies > CAH19-04-06 - Asian studies
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-02 - art
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 16:02
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:50

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