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The Art of Diplomacy: The Role of Exhibitions in the Development of Taiwan–China Relations

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In 2009 and 2011, Taiwan’s premier public art museum, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum presented two major solo exhibitions by prominent Chinese artists Cai Guo-Qiang and Ai Weiwei. These exhibitions signified a critical juncture in museological practice in Taiwan and they were closely aligned with the Taiwan government’s mission to develop closer ties with China. This article investigates the role of art in the development of cross-strait relations, including how it is being deployed by governments on both sides as a vehicle for soft power, as well as some of the political agendas that influenced and shaped exhibitions of Chinese art in Taiwan. By exploring issues of representation and reception, this article considers how the local art community is responding to Taiwan’s rapprochement with China, and to the growing visibility of Chinese art in its museums.
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Keywords: Ai Weiwei; Cai Guo-Qiang; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Taiwan–China relations; contemporary art exhibitions in Taiwan; museums and diplomacy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Australian National University

Publication date: February 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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