Exchange and Display: Republics of Taste and the Vision of Elder Statesmen

Donald, Stephanie (2001) Exchange and Display: Republics of Taste and the Vision of Elder Statesmen. Communal/Plural: Journal of Transnational & Cross-Cultural Studies, 9 (2). pp. 183-202. ISSN xxxx xxxx xx

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This article takes three case studies in which exhibited visual material was - at least by some - deemed unfit for exhibition. Although the circumstances of the complaints differed, all the events produced a sense of unease in the assumptions of cross-cultural initiatives. In one case, the incommensurability across dominant Chinese cultures became evident. In the other instances, a mistrust of the ability of predominantly white cultures to 'view historically' produced a discourse that veered between ethnic particularity and nationally determined socio-political knowledge. I argue that the concept of a republic of taste, which binds together politics, cultural production and a bounded public-for-art, may here be usefully employed outside its eighteenth-century English origins. The term articulates the scale of incommensurability between one public vision and another, and suggests that transnational exhibition cultures need to expect, and acknowledge, the difficulties that arise when clashes occur. The strength of display is that it allows a visual demonstration of the observation that invented nationality and perceptions of ethnicity may arise together and are therefore vulnerable to common misinterpretation. The paper argues that the repeated acknowledgment of this difficulty is one more step towards cross- and intra-cultural understanding and agonistic respect.

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Keywords:public art, curatorial decisions and censorship, competing visions of art, Singaporean art in the 1990s
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T130 Chinese Society and Culture studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
ID Code:31895
Deposited On:29 Oct 2018 09:42

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