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Staging Art and ChinesenessThe Politics of Trans/Nationalism and Global Expositions$
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Jane Chin Davidson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526139788

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526139795

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Patty Chang and the transnational cinematic subject of Chineseness

Patty Chang and the transnational cinematic subject of Chineseness

(p.53) 2 Patty Chang and the transnational cinematic subject of Chineseness
Staging Art and Chineseness

Jane Chin Davidson

Manchester University Press

Chapter 2 investigates the specific medium of performance video by looking closely at three projects by the artist Patty Chang – Die Ware Liebe (2012), Minor (2010), and Shangri La (2006). Through reflecting or engaging in the subject of 1930s film, Chang reconceptualizes a unique interplay of movie-video subjects, which is useful for examining the interplay of Chinese identities. She evokes three different types of cinematic subjects, consisting of: Die Ware Liebe’s miscegenation subject, which was often portrayed by the famous Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong in 1920s and 1930s film; Shangri La’s focus on Frank Capra’s 1937 movie Lost Horizon, based on James Hilton’s 1933 novel about a plane crash in the Himalayas and the discovery of the ethno-fantastic place of immortality; and Minor, which invokes the visual anthropology of Swedish explorer Sven Hedin whose trek to Lop Nor in the present-day region of Xinjiang was captured in the 1928 documentary film With Sven Hedin Across the Deserts of Asia. While exploring film interpellation, all three video expressions are also performance documents as Chang captures her travels to different regions of China. She contributes to the peripatetic tradition of artists who conceptualize and perform across national borders.

Keywords:   Patty Chang, 1930s cinema, video performance, Orientalism, Chinese immigration, performing landscapes

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