Imagining Taiwan: The Role of Art in Taiwan’s Quest for Identity


Taiwan’s quest for identity and international recognition has been the most important and fiercely contested issue for nearly half century, both nationally and internationally. Imagining Taiwan is the first in-depth and comprehensive study, published in English, which critically explores the pivotal role played by the visual arts in Taiwan’s identity discourse. Drawing on 25 years of research, Sophie McIntyre analyses the ways in which identity narratives have been imagined, interpreted and transmitted, locally and globally, through the production, selection, display and reception of Taiwan art.
This book focuses on the post-martial law era, a transformative period when democratisation gave rise to a heightened sense of Taiwanese consciousness, and a growing awareness of Taiwan’s place in the world. Artists, curators, art critics and scholars in Taiwan actively engaged in identity issues in unique, and often subversive ways. The author reveals how, with the turn of the new millennium, identity discourses in the visual arts shifted, from a Taiwan-centred narrative into a transnational vision embracing local, regional and global perspectives.
Imagining Taiwan brings together primary and archival sources, and nearly 200 images, many published for the first time. It is an essential reference for specialists and students in art, curatorship, museums, and Taiwan and China studies, and it will also appeal to those seeking a greater understanding of the wider region.

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Sophie McIntyre is a scholar and curator of art from the Asia-Pacific, with expertise in art from Greater China. She received her PhD from the Australian National University (2013) and has lectured and held fellowships in universities in Australia, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. She has also curated more than 30 exhibitions, several of which featured art from Taiwan. Her texts have been widely published in books, journals, and catalogues in Australia and internationally.
List of Figures
Note on Transliteration


Part 1 Exhibiting Taiwan art and the Politics of Museums, Identity and Recognition (1987–2000)
1 Rethinking History, Identity and Nation in Exhibitions of Taiwan Art
2 Reaching Out to Asia and the World: Regionalism and Internationalism in the (Re)presentation of Taiwan Art

Part 2 Artist Case Studies
3 Deconstructing the Nation – Mei Dean-E
4 Narrating the Nation – Yang Mao-lin
5 Whose Identity and Whose Nation? – Wu Mali
6 The Nation De-mythologised – Yao Jui-chung

Part 3 Globalisation and the Rise of China in the World: New Frameworks for Exhibiting Art from Taiwan (2000–10)
7 Decentring the Nation: Reconfi guring the Local as Global in the Taipei and Venice Biennials
8 Reorienting Taiwan: China’s Global Ascent and the ‘Art’ of Cross-Strait Exchange


This book is an essential reference for anyone interested in art and Taiwan, as well as in Taiwan-China relations and to those seeking a greater understanding of the region. It will appeal to university students, teachers, scholars, critics, curators, museum professionals, dealers and educated laymen, through public or academic libraries, universities, and research platforms.