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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
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London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Art and Business Patronage: the 'celebration' strategy of the Taishin Arts Award and Turner Prize in the contemporary Taiwanese and UK art scene

With Ms Nicole Lai (University of Westminster)

Series: Seminar on Taiwan in Comparative Perspective 

Date: Thursday 8 February 2008, 6pm-8pm

Venue:  Seligman Library (Room A607), Old Building, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Professor Stephan Feuchtwang (Taiwan Culture Research Programme)


The relationship between art and business patronage has become a global phenomenon today, having a great impact on both the art world and corporate activity. It also transforms the role of art in contemporary society. The importance of 'corporate intervention' has been raised by Wu Chin-tao*, who argues that it emerged strongly in the West in the 1980s during the Reagan and Thatcher periods. In Taiwan, it has not been until the establishment of the Taishin Arts Award in 2002 that art has seen active business patronage. This growing influence on the role of Taiwanese art and artists is being recognized within the art world with complex political and cultural effects.

The Taishin Arts Award has taken Taiwanese art beyond the conventional 'white cube' to display artists' images and art works in various public spaces. It also uses mass media as promotional tools, such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasting. Not only does this construct new discursive formations and knowledge of contemporary Taiwanese art, but also takes art to potential audiences who otherwise would not be exposed to it. The paper suggests that the discourse of the production and circulation of images are a new 'celebritisation' strategy for art and artists. Furthermore, these processes present a new global perspective on the local in art, as corporatization introduces mechanisms of selection by international juries of the 'best' of Taiwanese visual and performance art, which itself introduces new questions and terms of reference about artistic validity.

This seminar presentation will focus on the The Best of 2005, Taishin Arts Award, and the winning artist of the Visual Art Prize, Tang Huang-chen. It seeks to explore how the celebritisation strategy is operating around contemporary art and artists, and corporations, to generate new forms of symbolic capital. The seminar will also draw parallels with the UK art scene, in response to the observation by chief artistic director of the award foundation, Shih Ruei-ren that the establishment of the Taishin Art Award was inspired by the Turner Prize.

*Wu Chin-Tao (2003) Privatising Culture: corporate art intervention since the 1980s, London and New York: Verso.

About the Speaker

Ms Yi-Hsin Nicole Lai, MPhil/PhD Student Centre for Arts Research, Technology and Education (CARTE) and Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), University of Westminster.