Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 7, 2015

Migratory Signifiers, Encrypted Symbols

How Globalization Mobilizes Aesthetics

Marga van Mechelen
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


In this paper I apply the concept of migratory aesthetics to practices of performance and installation art. I begin with two examples of artists-migrants, the Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare and the Vietnamese-American artist Dinkh Q. Lê, and continue with Chinese artists who took the Great Wall of China as the locus but also the main motif of their performances and installations. I selected the work of Concept 21, the Yuanmingyuan group, and Xu Bing. I stress the importance of these art forms in relation to migratory aesthetics. I argue that it is the combination of signifiers inspired by Western art and Chinese iconographies - with sometimes intentionally encrypted symbols - that gives us a better understanding of the mobility and hybridity of aesthetics in times of globalization, which is therefore not restricted to artistic practices of migrants.

Published Online: 2015-8-7
Published in Print: 2015-8-1

© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston