Hiroki Yamamoto

Hiroki Yamamoto, Walking with People on the Move (2015). Photo by Kai Maetani.
Photo by Kai Maetani

Decolonising Aesthetics: Socially Engaged Art in East Asia after 2000 from a Perspective of Postcolonialism

CCW (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon)

This practice-based research project will examine the possibility of socially engaged art as a medium to tackle the current postcolonial issues in East Asia. The controversial history surrounding Japanese Imperialism (1895-1945) has reignited the conflicting nationalisms in East Asia. In these contexts such postcolonial issues in relation to recognition of history are rapidly coming to the fore as one of the most pressing political problems in East Asia to resolve.

I will rethink the black British artists’ successful strategies, artistic practices and translate some ideas that could effectively intervene the postcolonial issues in East Asia. By examining the complex postcolonial issues specific to East Asia, this research project will also explore how artistic practice can successfully engage with the issues and what art can do in the symbolic area where non-art inevitably has limitations. This study also aims to find out artistic strategies that can address East Asian cultural and geopolitical specificities that are different from those of Euroamerica, subsequently offers alternative cases and critiques to the Eurocentric debate on socially engaged art.

‘Decolonising aesthetics’ includes postcolonial forms of artistic practices that aim to re-code the ‘authentic’ objects encoded by the coloniser from the standpoint of the colonised or re-write the ‘formal’ history written by the coloniser from the perspective of the colonised. These binary oppositions exclusively ossify the expected role of the participants in art project or the implied meaning of the components in installation piece. By doing so they include the risk of retaining the existing stereotypes and prejudices in society, instead of challenging them.

My art projects intend to dismantle the binary of the coloniser and the colonised and provide an open platform for discussion of the postcolonial issues in East Asia by offering an alternative meaning of historical objects and a different viewpoint of historical events through the representative and symbolic system of art.