Resilient Creativities: Chinese contemporary art and the productivity of censorship

Venice, June 5 – At the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice I give a talk on the Myth Makers exhibition and the work of Wang Tuo.


“Visibility is a trap.” Michel Foucault’s words have continuously inspired me to question the oft-proclaimed virtues of openness, transparency, and emancipation. To paraphrase Tan Jia (2023), perhaps we should look for ways of hiding, disguising, and masquerading rather than showing and displaying. I like to connect this to Shotwell’s notion of a politics of impurity (2016), which takes complicity and compromise as an ethical point of departure. In my talk, I want to probe into the impure politics of (in)visibility. I will engage with two exhibitions, first, Myth Makers – Spectrosynthesis III in Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (24 December 2022 – 10 April 2023), showcasing queer art from Asia and its diasporas. Second, Beijing-based artist Wang Tuo’s The Second Interrogation, as shown in the Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong (21 March – 6 May 2023), a video work reflecting the artists “observations and reflections on cultural censorship in the art world in China in recent years” (gallery statement). Both shows not only allow a reflection on the impure politics of (in)visibility; they also attest to a second point I like to make: it is often in the context of limitations and regulations that creative practices can and do unfold.