Deceiving Dragons: Affecting Tradition in Korean Contemporary Arts
It is a double-edged sword, acting as a cultural barrier that Asian modernists have tried to overcome in order to join the international art world, yet at the same time giving them their distinctive style. Ambivalence stands at the heart of what can be considered the act of “inventing tradition” in contemporary Asian arts, a creative practice of self-fashioning one’s cultural sense of belonging at the local or national level. Particular attention should be paid to the way in which the act of invention plays out against the globalist system of representation in which Asian arts are often essentialized as signs of “Asianness,” an Orientalist construct of otherness that coheres into the world picture that privileges the Occidental gaze.
Jieun Rhee is a professor of Art History at Myongji University in Seoul, South Korea. She is a 2019-2020 faculty fellow at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities.
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