David Barton


Taiwanese Subjectivity and Tortured Dolls


In this paper I would like to discuss the artists Wong Chi-feng and Chen Chieh-jen, two Taiwanese artists who are representative of a generation of Taiwanese artists using shock, pornography, dolls and truncated bodies to address the issue of Taiwan’s place in a global economy. The paper addresses the issue of whether Taiwan is a multi-cultural nation and what it means to have a ‘Taiwanese subjectivity’ through interviews with the artists and commentary on their art. The framework for this study includes the European artist Hans Bellmer and his use of dolls, the work of George Bataille as well as the current trend for high priced limited edition dolls in Hong Kong. Taiwan’s attempt to create an indigenous art culture based on multi-cultural principles is shown in this paper to be besieged by the imperative of the global economy to transcend national borders.


I received my B.A. from McGill University, my M.A. from the University of Toronto and my Ph.D. from New York University. I have been working in Taiwan for twelve years now at National Central University. I have also had an art gallery running for six years above my ex-wife's bar, The River. So I have been involved in Taiwan's art and life to the extent I hope I can make this presentation interesting.