M.Phil. / Ph.D. Research

The interactions between different socially engaged art groups and between artists to participants


XIE Siyan



1 /

This research discusses the role that aesthetic values plays in socially engaged art practices in mainland China, through observing the interactions between different socially engaged art groups and between artists to participants.

Art scholars tended to discussed socially art practices in different cultural contexts by looking through the lens of geopolitics. In mainland China, socially engaged art groups focus on the cruelty of capitalism and social alienation: division of labor, social fragmentation, individualism and community vanishing- within its very unique socio-political context. It turns out that the key of art practices in mainland China is to stand out and hear each other, to transition from “singularity” to form up “plurality”, and to take joint action.

However, for no matter artists in community mutual groups, or self-proclaimed “artivists” who play a vital role in social movements, almost all of them were torn between the artistic language, from form to content, and the ethical calling of the social battlefield.

Within certain contexts, the question of how to understand the role aesthetics plays in the “community of sense” and whether aesthetic experiences and artistic gestures should be considered crucial to creating value in socially engaged art will be examined by looking at art practices through both empirical and theoretical frameworks. On top of this, a threefold investigation will be progressively presented: (1) what is the dynamic between art, politics, and the ethical turn; (2) How do participants cooperate with artists in Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society, SJT in Guangzhou, and other co-ops inspired by platform cooperativism; and (3) how can a “community of sense”, as described by Jacque Rancière, be built through collaboration or co-authoring in the aforementioned cases.