The Year of the Rat

Chan, JJ (2020) The Year of the Rat. Art Asia Pacific, 119, pp. 28-29. ISSN (print) 1039-3625


On March 9, I published an open letter to Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), withdrawing my participation from the exhibition “A New Constellation: Chinese Diaspora Now.” This move was prompted by the sudden departure of CFCCA’s curator, Tiffany Leung, which highlighted the reality of a systemic problem. Of the organization’s remaining team, only one is a non-white person. The situation reflects a wider demographic imbalance across conversations on “Chinese” arts and artists in the United Kingdom and beyond. This disparity perpetuates the overwhelmingly white Eurocentric perspective through which art is presented. As long as we operate in systems that offer more authority to the white voice, whiteness will continue to be the custodian of our narratives. As Donna J. Haraway wrote in Staying with the Trouble (2016), “It matters what matters we use to think other matters with . . . It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.” For any cultural organization to stand as a “leading authority” on any underrepresented voice, it must address that underrepresentation throughout, from its volunteers and interns to its management team, not least because even the most well-educated white curators cannot possess the inarticulable embodied knowledge of what it is like to live in a non-white body. --- 今年三月九號,我公開致信曼徹斯特的華人當代藝術中心(Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, CFCCA),宣佈退出「A New Constellation: Chinese Diaspora Now」展覽。這一決定的主要原因是CFCCA的館長Tiffany Leung的突然離任。這凸顯了一個系統性的問題:在機構餘下的雇員之中,只有一位是非白種人士;也反映了在英國等地,有關「中國藝術和藝術家」的討論和研究中,人口和種族分布的不均。這種失衡延續了以歐洲為中心的白人視角和觀點。倘若我們的制度繼續將論述的權力賦予白人,白人特性將繼續管制我們的敘事及聲音。正如女權主義者Donna J. Haraway在《Staying with the Trouble》(2016年)中所説:「我們理解事情的框架是有影響力的. . .創作世界的故事與創作故事的世界兩者皆重要。」 任何文化機構若是想為代表性不足的群體或文化發聲,便要先承認並徹底探究這種缺乏,不管是義工、實習生、抑或是管理層,因為即使是教育程度最高的白人館長,也永遠不能親身體會非白種人的體驗。

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