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Doctoral candidate: Julia Hartmann
Betreuer_in: Elke Krasny
Study program: Dr. phil.


The PhD thesis will investigate transnational positions in female-led and queer-feminist movements in Contemporary Chinese Art by tracing an exhibition history and emphasizing key protagonists within it. Generally speaking, the majority of female and queer artists is occupying a marginal position within categorizes like “Contemporary Chinese Art” or through labels like “women’s art” or “feminist artist” and tend to publicly oppose being identified as such. The paper thus aims at understanding the scope of action for women and artists in an authoritative nation-state and male-dominated art world and at giving an introduction to what changed politically and economically for them after 1979, when China opened its doors to Western markets and ideas. Since the 1980s the emergence of a greater sense of “collective identity” and of their own agency among women can be witnessed, which happened partly due to the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995 and nourished a certain kind of female consciousness.

The thesis will emphasize all-female group exhibitions in China since the 1990s by tracing local and global group exhibition histories and question if artists and curators represent a “feminist standpoint” or an essentialist view on “women’s art” within them. Another emphasis should be put on globalization and the rise of China as a global player and these influences on the art market as well as on the perception of transnational Chinese artists. Furthermore, two particular subversive strategies (coded language, creative hacktivism), which are used to circumvent censorship in order to externalize gender sensitive issues within art works will be explored. Finally, the thesis aims at contributing to the new and emergent field of linking feminist art history and contemporary art making from a transnational and intersectional perspective.


Julia Hartmann is art historian and independent curator for contemporary art, who has worked as Assistant Curator at the Secession and the Belvedere 21 in Vienna. She is currently a PhD student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, working on the thesis with the title Radical Characters: Transnational Positions in Female-led and Queer-feminist Movements in Contemporary Chinese Art. Her curatorial work focuses on the intersection of social movements, digitization, and art, which she elaborates in the course of the exhibition series Search for ... (2016, 2019). She is the co-founder of SALOON Wien, an international network for women in the arts and writes the blog Jules&Art.