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Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: Queer Art Cut in Paper

7 July 2022
6.00pm – 7.15pm AEST

Using queer Chinese artist Xiyadie’s papercutting works as a case study, Hongwei Bao interrogates the concept of queer art.

This seminar is hosted by the Judith Neilson Chair in Contemporary Art, UNSW as part of the UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture Contemporary Asia-Pacific Visual Cultures Webinar Series. The series aims to foster a cross-institutional, international dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region by showcasing new research and thinking on contemporary visual art and culture.

This talk interrogates the concept of queer art by using queer Chinese artist Xiyadie’s papercutting works as a case study. Xiyadie (b. 1963, Shaanxi) is one of the best-known queer artists from contemporary China. He tells his story as a rural, migrant gay man living on the fringes of Chinese society and expresses his repressed queer desires by using the traditional form of papercutting. Xiyadie’s papercuts blur the boundaries between art and craft, rural and urban, and premodern and postmodern. They also raise crucial questions about the epistemologies of queerness, art and queer art in a transnational and non-Western context. Indeed, whilst queer art is often seen as postmodern, modern and Western, Xiyadie’s works demonstrate that it can also be traditional, indigenous and rooted in local traditions. Challenging the Western centrism of queer art history, this talk also reveals the role of the international art market and global LGBTQ movement in creating categories, canons and legends.

About the speaker:

Dr Hongwei Bao is Associate Professor in Media Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he directs the Centre for Contemporary East Asian Cultural Studies. He holds a PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies from the University of Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Queer Comrades, Queer China, Queer Media in China and Contemporary Chinese Queer Performance. Dr Bao is the co-editor of Routledge Handbook for Chinese Gender and Sexuality and the Bloomsbury book series Queering China: Transnational; Genders and Sexualities. He also serves on the editorial boards of British Journal of Chinese Studies, Chinese Independent Cinema Observer, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and Queer Asia book series (Hong Kong University Press).

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