Minor China

Method, Materialisms, and the Aesthetic

Minor China

ANIMA: Critical Race Studies Otherwise

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 38 illustrations Published: April 2021

Author: Hentyle Yapp

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Asian Studies > East Asia, Theory and Philosophy > Affect Theory

In Minor China Hentyle Yapp analyzes contemporary Chinese art as it circulates on the global art market to outline the limitations of Western understandings of non-Western art. Yapp reconsiders the all-too-common narratives about Chinese art that celebrate the heroic artist who embodies political resistance against the authoritarian state. These narratives, as Yapp establishes, prevent Chinese art, aesthetics, and politics from being discussed in the West outside the terms of Western liberalism and notions of the “universal.” Yapp engages with art ranging from photography and performance to curation and installations to foreground what he calls the minor as method—tracking aesthetic and intellectual practices that challenge the predetermined ideas and political concerns that uphold dominant conceptions of history, the state, and the subject. By examining the minor in the work of artists such as Ai Weiwei, Zhang Huan, Cao Fei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Carol Yinghua Lu, and others, Yapp demonstrates that the minor allows for discussing non-Western art more broadly and for reconfiguring dominant political and aesthetic institutions and structures.


“How do China and Chinese artists become legible in contemporary global circuits? In this informative study, Hentyle Yapp handles this question and its vast ideological ramifications by gauging late-capitalist art market aesthetics, academic discursive politics, and transnational multimedia dynamics. Most commendably, he asks us not to lose sight of the preemptive liberalist biases advanced by many Western accounts of non-Western cultures." — Rey Chow, author of Entanglements, or Transmedial Thinking about Capture

“Hentyle Yapp's deconstruction of the dialectic of authoritarian regulation and artistic resistance in Chinese art is certain to attract critical attention from scholars in numerous fields. Minor China is an outstanding book that sets a new standard for analyzing non-Western art and politics otherwise.” — David L. Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hentyle Yapp is Assistant Professor of Art and Public Policy at New York University and coeditor of Saturation: Race, Art, and the Circulation of Value.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. We're Going to Party Like It's 1989: Proper China, Interdisciplinarity, and the Global Art Market  37
2. All Look Same: Ai Weiwei's Multitudes, Comrade Aesthetics, and Racial Anger in a Time of Inclusion  70
3. Minoring the Universal: Affect and the Molecular in Yan Xing's Performances and Liu Ding, Carol Lu, and Su Wei's Curation as Art Practice  103
4. Minor Agencies: Reformulating Demystification and Performativity through the Works of Zhang Huan, He Chengyao and Cao Fei  141
5. Tout-Monde and the Minor: The Cinematic and Theatrical Chinese Woman in Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves  176
Afterword. For Those Minor in and to China: Protests in Hong Kong and Samson Young in Venice  208
Notes  223
Bibliography  245
Index  261
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1155-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1047-0