Recent interdisciplinary scholarship has increasingly demonstrated the need to highlight the social heterogeneity of multiple Chinese diasporas instead of a singular Chinese diaspora. Established and emerging scholars from Australia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States will discuss the artworks of Xiao Lu, Song Ling, Li Yuan-Chia, Richard Show-Yu Lin, Kim Lim, Cai Guoqiang, Hong Xian, Huang Yao,  Hung Liu, Tehching Hsieh and others. The presentations are intended to contribute to an examination of such critical but contested concepts as migration and transmigration, displacement, exile, homeland, mobility, transnationalism, nationality, coloniality, citizenship, and cosmopolitanism in cultural and art historical studies.


For information and registration:

  • When

    April 19, 2024 (4AM, Sydney Time) and April 26, 2024 (7AM, Sydney Time)

  • Where


Conference Program

The two-day virtual conference takes place online across different time zones.

Please note that the first day (April 18, 2024) starts at 2:00 PM EST in the US and “simultaneously” at 2:00 AM in China and Singapore and at 4:00 AM in Sydney the next day (April 19).

The second day (April 25, 2024) starts at 5:00 PM EST in the US and simultaneously’ at 5:00 AM in China and Singapore and at 7:00 AM in Sydney the next day (April 26).

If you are joining the conference from another timezone, please take account of the relevant time difference.

Friday, 19 April 2024 (4AM, Sydney Time)

Moderator: Filippo Grassi

4:00-4:03 AM


Karin Zitzewitz, Professor and Chair, Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

4:03-4:05 AM

Opening Remarks

Jason Kuo, Professor, Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

4:05-4:35 AM

Chinese Contemporary Ink Art and the Changing Conditions of International Relocation since the 1980s: Song Ling and Xiao Lu in the People’s Republic of China and Australia 

Paul Gladston

Since the 1980s, Australia has been a destination for Chinese artists wishing to relocate from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those artists include Song Ling, former member of the Hangzhou-based “avant-garde” art group Chi-she (The Pond Association), active between the mid- and late 1980s, and Xiao Lu, the internationally renowned artist best known for the performance work known as The Gunshot Event (1989).

Song Ling emigrated to Australia before 1989, attracted by the social and cultural freedoms offered by Western liberal democracies. Consequently, Song’s work was not included in the landmark survey show “China/Avant-garde,” staged in Beijing in 1989 - the first major showcase for Chinese contemporary art anywhere in the world. More recently, Song has divided his time between Australia and the PRC, in part to develop a greater local and international profile for his work as a contemporary – pop art inflected – ink and brush artist.

Xiao Lu left the PRC for Australia after having been arrested by police for her participation in The Gunshot Event, in which she fired live rounds from a pistol into her installation Dialogue (1989) during the opening of “China/Avant-garde.” Xiao eventually returned to the PRC, but has since relocated to Australia once more – where she is a citizen – because of growing restrictions on freedom of cultural expression in the PRC after Xi Jinping’s installation as paramount leader there in 2012. Xiao’s work now includes paintings and performances related to traditional Chinese ink and brush painting.

This paper will explore the differing trans-national trajectories of Song’s and Xiao’s artistic development between the PRC and Australia. It will be argued that the benefits and disbenefits of relocation for both artists have shifted over time, relative to changing geopolitical power relations and artworld conditionalities inside the PRC and internationally over the last three decades. Caught up in all of this are Song’s and Xiao’s respective shifts toward the use of ink- and brush-related techniques as signifiers of Chinese cultural tradition and identity. 

Dr. Paul Gladston is the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and a distinguished affiliate fellow of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghua University. He is co-editor of the book series Contemporary East Asian Visual Cultures, Societies and Politics, and was founding principal editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. His recent book-length publications include the monograph Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity (2019), and the collected editions Visual Culture Wars at the Borders of Contemporary China (2021), and China and Translation Studies (2023). He was an academic adviser to Art of Change: New Directions from China (Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London 2012), and has co-curated several exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art, including “New China/New Art: Contemporary Video from Shanghai and Hangzhou” (Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham 2015), “Dis-Continuing Traditions: Contemporary Video Art from China” (Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart 2021), and “Enchanted Realities: Tan Lijie – Selected Works 2013-2022” (Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart 2023).

4:35-5:05 AM

Temporary Durations: The Liminality of Tehching Hsieh’s Performances

Eleanor Stoltzfus

This paper addresses the work of Tehching Hsieh who, over a twenty-year period, enacted a series of durational performative events, five completed over the course of a year (Cage Piece (1978–79), Time Clock Piece (1980–81), Outdoor Piece (1981–82), Rope Piece (1983–84), No Art Piece (1985–86)) and the final work lasting thirteen years (Tehching Hsieh 19861999 (Thirteen-Year Plan)). In each of these works, Hsieh addressed questions of temporal and spatial constraint, social positionality and identity, performed/enforced discipline, and documentary evidence.

Hsieh’s arrival in New York City in 1974 as an illegal immigrant coincided with an increasing concern with duration as a determining element in the art event. Hsieh’s investigation of temporality was located specifically within the contemporary performance world of artists such as Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Joseph Beuys, Marina Abramović, and Ulay, who had begun experimenting with durational actions during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hsieh’s preoccupation with time manifested in extended durations; refuting the inherent ephemerality of the performance work, Hsieh expanded his actions to encompass long periods of momentariness and impermanence. Within this framework of an expanded and malleable temporality, Hsieh’s performance works operate liminally, occupying the margins of multiple meanings and intentionalities. This paper examines Hsieh’s performances collectively, considering how Hsieh operated on the boundaries of multiple varying spaces: outside/insider, legal/illegal, confined/free, work/leisure, public/private, and visible/invisible. Occupying marginal positions across multiple boundaries of meaning, Hsieh insistently deconstructed temporal experience, exposing its malleability and instability.

Dr. Eleanor Stoltzfus earned her PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her dissertation focused on Bauhaus photography and New Womanhood in Weimar Germany. She has worked in curatorial roles at the Worcester Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, and Grey Art Gallery, NYU. Her research centers on the intersection of art and politics in interwar Germany, architectural utopianism, and issues of spectatorship in early twentieth-century photography, film, and stage design.

5:05-5:35 AM

East, West, and Nowhere: Cai Guo-Qiang’s Evolving Journey through Seen and Unseen Worlds

Lydia Ohl

Starting in 2016, contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang began a voyage of self-reflection and academic study ranging from classical to modern art through a series of projects entitled An Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History. After terrestrial journeys and cosmic explorations, Cai turned to the past to find fresh ground for his continuing exploration of seen and unseen worlds. When asked to describe his global methodology, Cai stated, “I am bringing chaos to time, to context, and to culture… I can take one out of context and put it in another, ignoring all boundaries and socially constructed constraints.The “chaos” he brings is a disruptive re-evaluation of ingrained perceptions or stereotypes. While not a unique approach to cross-cultural global art, Cai’s form of unruly transplantation manifests as dramatic spectacle based on a violent, irrevocable change of state – most commonly through the ignition of gunpowder. For this presentation, I will discuss how Cai’s chaos forces a re-evaluation of contemporary relations with masterworks of the past, and recontextualizes his own continuing journey through time and space.

Lydia Ohl  is an independent researcher and archivist. She is a PhD Candidate at The Courtauld Institute of Art in Modern and Contemporary Asian Art with an MA in Medieval Art. From 2013-2022, she was the Head of Archives for artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who is the subject of her forthcoming dissertation “Cai Guo-Qiang and the Art of Catastrophe: Responses to Global Catastrophe from Olympiad to Pandemic.” Currently, Lydia is consulting for the artist Robert Wilson in the development of the Library of Inspiration, an experimental dual digital and physical program for research in the arts and humanities.

5:35-6:05 AM

Revisiting Cang Jie: Huang Yao’s Character Paintings (Wen Zi Hua 文字画) in Malaysia

Nan Zhong

In the late 1930s to early 1940s, Huang Yao was a renowned cartoonist acclaimed in Shanghai. His comic character "Niu Bi Zi" (Bull's Nose) had a profound impact on people's hearts, and, together with his incisive critiques of current affairs, he became an essential part of the left-wing comic history during China's Anti-Japanese War period. However, by the late 1940s, Huang Yao and his family had relocated to Nanyang (Southeast Asia), passing through Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore, eventually settling in Malaysia. For the following three decades, until his passing, Huang Yao, this once well-celebrated talent, seemed to vanish from the public eye. Nevertheless, the truth is that Huang Yao never ceased his creative journey. During his more than thirty years abroad, he continuously explored the diverse possibilities of traditional Chinese ink art in the new era. Particularly noteworthy is his creation of “Character Painting (Wen Zi Hua 文字画),” wherein he picturized Chinese characters by drawing on ancient Chinese scripts (oracle bone script, seal script, clerical script, etc.), thus involving the origins of Chinese civilization and its evocative and poetic calligraphic traditions in the conversation. This paper will primarily focus on the origin and evolution of Huang Yao's “Character Painting,” as well as how he merged Chinese painting and calligraphy traditions in the contemporary era. Additionally, this paper will delve into the historical and societal influences of 1960s-1970s Malaysia on Huang Yao's creative work.

Zhong Nan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned his M.A degree in East Asian Languages and Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. His research interests are focused on Chinese calligraphy and painting from the late Imperial period to the Republican era. Currently, he is working on his doctoral dissertation, which explores the development of overseas calligraphy and the impact of geopolitics. Nan also has a strong interest in museum work and has previously interned at institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the University of Maryland Art Gallery, and the National Museum of Asian Art.

6:05-7:00 AM

Q and A

Friday, 26 April 2024 (7AM, Sydney Time)

Moderator: Belinda Qian He

7:00-7:30 AM

Nothing to See Here: Chinese Diasporic Artists and the White Monochrome in 1960s and 70s Britain

Wenny Teo

This paper focuses on three Chinese diasporic artists who lived and worked in Britain from the late 1950s to the 1990s: Li Yuan-Chia (b. 1929 Guangxi, China; d. 1994 Carlisle, UK), Richard Show-Yu Lin (b. 1933 Taichung Prefecture, Taiwan; d. 2011 Taichung City, Taiwan) and Kim Lim (b. 1936 Singapore, d. 1997 London, UK). They were among the few émigré ethnic minority artists in this period who were supported by prominent galleries and institutions, and had work included in important exhibitions and major collections both in the UK and abroad.

Although there is no evidence that the three artists had ever met or corresponded, they each employed a pared-down formal vocabulary in their paintings, drawings, reliefs, and prints that referenced “Eastern” aesthetic sensibilities. Particularly in the 1960s and 70s, each artist began to produce works in a variety of media characterized by white monochrome surfaces and an attention to the phenomenological properties of negative space that raise important methodological questions that this paper will examine. Were these artists adopting, adapting, or perhaps reclaiming the tendency toward the “Zen” aesthetic that profoundly influenced European and American minimalist and conceptual art in the 1960s and 70s? Or was the stubborn “blankness” of their white monochrome works a cipher for ambivalent processes of subjectivization and negotiation, reflecting the “invisibility” and “muteness,” or even the racial “passing” of the immigrant Chinese “model minority”? Focusing on their use of whiteness as a medium and method, this paper situates the work of these artists within and against the discrepant histories of the monochrome, as well as the troubled history of Chinese immigration and identity in the UK, thus proposing a critical reading of their diverse practice through the phenomenology of race and the politics of form.

Dr. Wenny Teo is Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, specializing in China and the Sinophone world. Prior to joining the Courtauld, she worked in curatorial roles at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, and Tate Modern, London. Her research centers on the politics and poetics of infrastructure in China and along the ‘New Silk Road,’ as well as on art histories of Chinese immigration in the UK. She is currently working on a monograph on the work of three Chinese diasporic artists who lived and worked in the UK from the 1950s to the 1990s: Li Yuan-Chia, Richard Show-Yu Lin, and Kim Lim. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and Oxford Art Journal, and convenes the Asymmetry Art Foundation Chinese and Sinophone art program at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

7:30-8:00 AM

Between Worlds: Hong Xian’s Transformational Ink Painting

Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres

This paper spotlights the work of Hong Xian 洪嫻 (Margaret Chang, born 1933 in Yangzhou, China), an artist largely omitted from historical narratives. An international artist in the global sense, as a young woman, Hong studied classical Chinese painting in Taiwan under the tutelage of Prince Pu Xinyu 溥心畬 (1896-1963). She received her degree from National Taiwan University under the tutelage of modern masters such as Chu Teh-chun 朱德群 (1920-2014) in the 1950s, and then she moved to the United States where her art evolved. She studied at North Western University and the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 50s and early 60s. Hong is also one of only three female members of the Fifth Moon Group五月畫會, a group of artists who pioneered the modern art movement in post-war Taiwan. Departing from the conventional brush practice, and emphasizing the importance of personal expression and individual style, Hong Xian introduced new themes, techniques, and ideas to Chinese ink painting that are entirely her own. This paper will examine Hong Xian’s unique contributions to modern Chinese ink painting as she searched for a way to reconcile her artistic heritage with her own global identity. 

Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres is a PhD Candidate in Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the University of California, San Diego, with a specialization in Chinese modern and contemporary art history. Beres is currently completing her dissertation on the reinventions and transformations of antiquity in mixed-media paintings of the late Qing. Beres is also a curator and cultural worker who is broadly interested in the transnational, cross-geographic flows of visual culture that characterize the global art world. She has curated more than thirty exhibition projects for museums and institutions around the world, such as the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, the Pagoda Paris in France, the Today Art Museum in Beijing, and more.

8:00-8:30 AM

Hung Liu: A Resident Alien in 1989

Dorothy Moss

Following her breakthrough 1988 presentation of the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, Hung Liu (1948-2021) exhibited new work near Arlington, Texas, where she and her husband, the art critic Jeff Kelley, lived, followed by her first New York exhibition in 1989 at Nahan Contemporary. In her review of the New York installation for Village Voice, Kim Levin called it, “the freshest, most intelligent show around. Combining Maoist poster painting with other Chinese imagery—calligraphic goddesses, acupuncture charts, anamorphic erotica, the painful reality of bare feet—and real objects (a broom, an empty bowl, a stack of temple money), her work fiercely dissects that grotesque and possessive politics of gender and sex.” Liu’s vision and her groundbreaking approach to artmaking was catching the attention of critics on both coasts. This paper will revisit Liu's pivotal Capp Street Project installation and her introduction to the New York art scene in her Nahan Contemporary exhibition in the context of Liu's study of performance art with Allan Kaprow and feminist theory with Moira Roth at University of California, San Diego. As the first woman from China to study art at the graduate level in the United States, Liu navigated her socialist realist training in China with the experimental art practices around her at UCSD. Continually pushing her practice and her concept of artmaking, Liu wrote, “As a classically trained Chinese artist, the shift to contemporary western art practice has been especially abrupt. In effect, that shift has become the subject of my work.”

Dr. Dorothy Moss is the Founding Director of the Hung Liu Estate. From 2011-2023, Moss held the position of curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG). During her tenure at the Smithsonian, she was a leader of the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative, serving as coordinating curator of the Initiative from 2018-2021. Moss initiated the NPG's first performance art series, where she commissioned performances by renowned artists including Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, Jeffrey Gibson, and Jame Luna. Her recent projects include the exhibition and book Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands (Yale University Press, 2021) and The Obama Portraits (Princeton University Press, 2020). In 2022 Moss received the Smithsonian Secretary's Prize for Excellence in Research for Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands. She earned a Master's degree in Art History at Williams College and a PhD in Art History at the University of Delaware.

8:30-9:00 AM

Contesting the Diaspora in Contemporary Taiwanese Art

Yu-chieh Li

Contemporary Asian art must demonstrate self-referentiality to art history in order to be included in it; or, as Monica Juneja's most recent monograph puts it, must be “transcultural,” as part of the formation of art historiography. In an ostensibly global world, Asian art history is all too frequently reduced to the East-West binary, or is written through the lens of Eurocentric and colonial frameworks. This study challenges that perspective by reexamining the Asian Diaspora from the inside out. This paper will analyze the curatorial strategies at large-scale group shows such as Secret South (2020), Wild Rhizome (2018), and The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea (2019), all held at state-run museums in Taiwan. This paper will attend to various layers of diaspora and examine the representations and agencies of diverse cultural groups in such group shows, to question the symptom and desire to establish postcolonial authenticity and alterity within the multi-cultural, while also Han-centric, society. In this paper, the writer contends that the exhibitions served as a platform for challenging prevailing conceptions of diaspora, sojourn, and identity. As a result, they facilitated the exploration of novel avenues within the realm of art historiography that extended beyond the conventional national boundaries.

Dr. Yu-chieh Li teaches courses on the histories and theories of modern and contemporary art in a global context at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. She holds a PhD in East Asian Art History and an MA in European Art History from Heidelberg University, Germany. Prior to joining Lingnan University, she was the inaugural Judith Neilson Postdoctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art at University of New South Wales, Sydney (2018-2020). She has also held research positions at the Tate Research Centre: Asia, London (2017-2018), and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013-2015). Her research engages with aesthetics of performance art in Asia, art historiography emerging from decolonial struggles, and socially engaged practices and curation resisting neoliberal globalization. Currently, she is working on a book project examining artistic autonomy in postsocialist China. She has served as co-editor of Xu Bing: Beyond the Book from the Sky (with Sarah E. Fraser, Springer, 2020), and Visual Representations of the Cold War and Postcolonial Struggles (with Midori Yamamura, Routledge, 2021).

9:00-10:00 AM

Q and A


Filippo Grassi is a PhD student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at UMD where he studies modern and contemporary Chinese art under the mentorship of Professor Jason Kuo. Filippo holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Chinese Language and Culture from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His research focuses on issues of personal and collective identity in contemporary Chinese art. Filippo is also interested in digital humanities and studies how web technologies can be utilized in art history education.

Dr. Belinda Qian He is an assistant professor in East Asian Cinema & Media Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining the UMD faculty, she worked as a CCS Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and taught global film and media at the University of Oklahoma and University of Washington, Seattle. Her work lies at the intersection of film & media studies, Asian studies, and legal humanities, exploring the role of film, photography, video, and other emergent media in policing, punishing, and justice making. She co-edited two special issues on “A Deep Focus on Global Chinese Cinephilia” for the Journal of Chinese Cinemas. As a collaborator since 2020, she has contributed to the Global Cinema collection of the Media History Digital Library at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is currently working on her book, Expose and Punish: Trial by Moving Images in Chinese Revolutionary Times.

Acknowledgements for Logistical and Technical Support:

Dr. Quint Gregory, Director, The Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

Dr. Chris Cloke, Associate Director, The Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

Haojian Cheng, MA/PhD student, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

Co-organized by:

Department of Art History and Archaeology
University of Maryland & the
Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art
University of New South Wales, Sydney

Co-sponsored by:

Center for East Asian Studies & Center for Global Migration Studies,
University of Maryland &
The Endowment of the Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art,
University of New South Wales, Sydney


Paul Gladston
Eleanor Stoltzfus
Lydia Ohl
Nan Zhong
Wenny Teo
Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres
Dorothy Moss
Yu-chieh Li

Image Credit: Cai Guo-Qiang, Salón de Reinos…, 2017. Gunpowder on canvas, 360 x 600 cm. Photo by Christopher Burke, courtesy Cai Studio. Collection of the artist.