Expressions of resistance: social realist artworks of the Yiyanhui and the equator art society

Emelia, O.I.L. (2016) Expressions of resistance: social realist artworks of the Yiyanhui and the equator art society. In: ASEASUK Conference 2016, 16 - 18 September 2016, University of London, United Kingdom.

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During the 1950s, a social realist art movement emerged in Singapore featuring themes such as over-population, unemployment, exploitation of labour and various social ills. I argue that these social realist artworks may be read as expressions of resistance against a colonial discourse which represented Chinese identity in Malaya as opportunistic, untrustworthy, materialistic and susceptible to communist tendencies. The artworks may be viewed as a conjunctural response to the crisis within British Malaya after the war. These artists highlighted the inequalities of the colonial regime at a time when it was vulnerable and saw a possible path towards transformation that would lead to independence. Their anti-colonial stance and alignment with the other ethnic communities was consistently demonstrated through the repeating of non-communal themes in subject matter based on the working classes. As counter narratives, these artworks can thus be seen as strategies employed by a diasporic community to gain political agency and reconstruct Chinese identity within the Malayan nationalistic discourse.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Yiyanhui; Equator Art Society; Malayan nationalistic discourse; Social realist art
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Depositing User: Mr. Mohd Safri
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 03:56
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 03:56

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