Rethinking Collective: Mapping on the Development of Woodblock Printing Collectives in Inter-Asian Context

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Rethinking Collective: Mapping on the Development of Woodblock Printing Collectives in Inter-Asian Context
Stream: Art/Art History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Krystie Ng, National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan (organizer, presenter)
Chun Fung Lee, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland (presenter, discussant)
Ai Kano, Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan (presenter, chair)
Ding Li, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (presenter)


The development of contemporary woodblock printing collectives in Asia is different from artworks that serve the institutions, market or personal collections, to a certain extent it can be regarded as the “alternative narrative” of our time. As the Inter-Asia affiliations have taken place across East Asia and Southeast Asia, they formed a self-organized network among these collectives, which not only have aroused concern about the deprivation of the underprivileged, but also underscored the artistic stance of co-production. Other than the mainstream individualistic aesthetic mode of production, such collaborative art-making envisions “politics” through art.

In this panel, we attempt to map the trajectory of self-organized woodcut collectives, and discuss on the possibility for contemporary art practitioners and local people to establish a network that maintains both localized and trans-border dimensions. The practice of these collectives accentuates the participatory process based on ethical principles – equity among participants, respect for differences and democratic decision-making – and hence rethinks “autonomy”. More importantly, we hope to contextualize these empirical cases in the framework of globalization and neoliberalism to rethink the political significance of contemporary collective production. Indeed, the cases of woodblock printing collective are yet to be simply marked as a return to collectivism. The politics of collaborative art have to be scrutinized under the micro-perspective as well as the macro one, in other words, the historical and socio-political conditions.

Through case studies in our articles and network mapping, we hope to henceforth deliberate on “an alternative route” of the Inter-Asia autonomous cultural network.