Inching Towards the Fire
Aug 12, 2018 Sunday 19:00 - 20:30
“Zomia” is a term that groups the region of highlands overlapping Yunnan, China and several countries in Southeast Asia. There, certain ethnic groups, particularly those who practice swidden (slash-and-burn) agriculture, have preserved their local culture by residing away from state control and influence–– though this ability and desire to remain independent is ever-changing. What happened when the works of those who once refused to come down from the mountains began to exhibit at the Yunnan Museum of Minority Nationalities for the first time? Was this exchange mutually beneficial, a compromise, a travesty, a fiction?
The talk will investigate not only the more traditional museums in Yunnan, but also the concept of an eco-museum. Starting in the late 1990s, the construction of eco-museums began in six villages across Yunnan— each focusing on a different officially recognized nationalities. We will look at the Jinuo Eco-Museum in Baka Village, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture as a case study, and further consider the parallel booms in ethnic nationality museums and tourism in Yunnan.
Maggie J ZHENG (b. Los Angeles, USA) is a visual and performing artist interested in the impending obsolescence of solely individual embodiments. The relationships between nation-state borders, daily life, and aesthetics drive her ongoing research in Yunnan. She graduated from UCLA with a major in Art and minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education. In 2016-17, she was a recipient of the Hoyt Scholarship and Undergraduate Research Scholars Program scholarship, doing independent studies with Andrea Fraser and Silke Otto-Knapp–– translating ideas into tangible, transferrable objects of different mediums including sculpture, performance, and text.
Free admission, reservation is required.