The Institutionalisation of Hybridity
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
The fetishistic abstraction of cultural spaces in on-going discussions about diasporic hybridity - especially those in the form of 'de-materialised' rhetorical celebrations of the transgressive liminality and emancipatory potential implicit in diasporic cultural production - Invariably risks obscuring the social and economic, relations of power. In this paper, I propose an analysis of the ways in which hybrid Identity is mobilised, defined, represented, and regulated in the art institution. My discussion of the Chinese-Australian visual arts context highlights the nuanced processes of collaboration and cooptation in the institutionalisation of diasporic art and hybrid 'Chineseness'. These new representational contexts might well challenge conventional understandings and practices, but they may also risk reiterating hegemonic raciallsed paradigms of inclusion, visibility and legitimacy. At issue here is the institutional framing of the category of 'diaspora art' and the apparent prescribed role for diasporic artists, as well as the circumscribed discursive function of hybrid 'in-betweenness' in an art institutional context. My concern Is that, without an attendant critique of correlated institutional paradigms and practices, Chinese-Australian art potentially becomes enshrined as a socially autonomous transgressive artefact. In the end, questions of hybridlty and the aesthetics of diasporlc hybridity, as well as the modulations of hybrid cultural citizenship and agency, cannot be divorced from the broader contexts that produce and govern these phenomena.