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Periphery as Center: Art and Identity of Taiwan under Japan

Wed, June 24, 9:00 to 10:55am, North Building, Floor: 9th Floor, N904

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


Recent effort to define Taiwan’s cultural identity has been complicated by the shifting view of its history under Japanese (1895–1945). The changes are especially stark in the historiographical rehabilitation of the art and artists during this period. Rather than the artistic development in the period, however, an overwhelming interest from scholars and the general audience is devoted to political implications, to which the art and artists of this period are associated. Contrary to such political interpretations, this panel offers three studies, in which Taiwanese artists and their works were examined in their original context. Pai argues that artists of Taiwanese traditional painting actively negotiated with powerful influence from China, Japan and the West in order to take charge in the (re)shaping of their cultural identity. Sena explores the problem of identity conflict by observing several Taiwanese artists who juggled both European and Japanese influences while living in China. Addressing similar issues but from a different angle, Mathison examines the life and art of the celebrated artist Chen Cheng-po and offers critiques on the rise of Chen’s legacy in recent years. Collectively, these three studies provide historical insights into Taiwanese art under Japan, as well as how cultural identity was negotiated under complex political circumstances. The papers also reflect on the dynamic relationship between Taiwan and its neighboring imperial powers during the first half of the 20tht century, which positioned Taiwan on the periphery and at the same time in the center of the lively cultural exchanges in East Asia.

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