YCAR holds symposium and art exhibit on Asian transformation

The last half-century has brought tremendous changes to Asia and Asian Canadian communities. As part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) will explore some of these transformations beginning with a symposium and an exhibition looking at transnationalism and globalization in Asian mass media and Asian Canadian art.

The Global Modern: Transnationalism and the Media in Asia symposium will be held Friday, May 15 from 10am to 5pm in 280 York Lanes, Keele campus, followed by the launch of the transpulsation – new asian canadian imaginings exhibition, including a wine and cheese reception, from 5:30 to 7:30pm in the Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building.

“The last 50 years have seen Asian studies become a major part of academic life at York University, but both Asia and our understanding of it has changed considerably in this period,” says Susan Henders, professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Arts, and director of YCAR.

“The symposium and exhibition underline how much the notion of ‘global Asia’ has come to influence our current understandings of Asia, including its mass media and other forms of cultural and artistic representation and expression, and its place in the movement of people and ideas.”

The Global Modern: Transnationalism and the Media in Asia will bring into conversation several York scholars working on various transnational media trends in different Asian locations and among different diasporic Asian communities in the West, says women’s studies and humanities Professor Joan Judge, organizer of the event.

Presenters will explore the transnational origins and dimensions of the modern mass media in Asia demonstrating that various forms of South and East Asian media were global from their inception, which belies the commonly held conception that globalization is a post-modern, post-capitalist, late-20th-century development. 

"It is our hope that bringing out the resonances in our work will shed light on the complexities of the Asian global modern and possibly serve as the foundation for future collaborative work on this subject," says Judge.

The presenters, including Judge; Professors Shobna Nijhawan and Xueing Xuy of York’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; Professor Wendy Wong, chair of the Department of Design; Sailaja Krishnamurti, course director of the South Asian Studies Program; and social & political thought doctoral student Doris Sung, will explore these themes looking at various forms of media, including women’s journals and comics from China to India and Canada.

Left: Julia Andrews

The symposium will wrap up with the keynote lecture, “Publishing and the Birth of China’s Modern Art World: Shanghai huabao (Pictorial Shanghai) in the 1920s,” given by Julia Andrews, a well-known art historian from Ohio State University whose expertise includes contemporary Chinese art. She has studied the role and transnational provenance of images in early-20th-century Chinese periodicals.

Andrews’ first book, Painters and Politics in the People’s Republic of China (1995), won the 1996 Association for Asian Studies Joseph Levenson Book Prize for the best book of the year on modern China.

In addition to writing and teaching, Andrews served as co-curator and catalogue author for one of the first American exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art, Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile, at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts in 1993. In 2006, she co-organized Chinese Painting on the Eve of the Communist Revolution: Chang Shu-chi and his Collection for Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center.

transpulsation – new asian canadian imaginings exhibition

In the past 20 years, Asian Canadian artists have been incorporating transnational features in their works,” says Doris Sung, co-curator of the exhibit along with Jooyeon Rhee. Both are York doctoral candidates and YCAR graduate associates with a combined 17 years of curatorial experience in Ontario and the US.

As artists’ contacts and resources in Asia increased, their artistic vision and creativity became a driving force to make the Canadian art scene more vibrant. This exhibition is envisioned to showcase the artists’ experience of cross-cultural existence and their achievements on the Canadian and international art world.”

The exhibition features the works of Shelly Bahl, Will Kwan, Meera Sethi and Amy Wong, emerging and mid-career artists who have exhibited widely in both Canadian and international venues. The works reflect their rich cross-cultural living and travelling experiences.

They are experimental in terms of their styles and multi-dimensional perspectives that not only address the theme we were trying to explore but also widen our understanding of the transnational identity of Asian and Canadians, said Rhee.

Transpulsation – new asian canadian imaginings will continue at the Gales Gallery until June 12.

For more information about the symposium, visit the YCAR symposium schedule. For more information on YCAR’s U50 events, visit the YCAR Web site or email ycar@yorku.ca. For other Asian Heritage Month events in the GTA, visit the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage Web site.