Para Site is delighted to present the group exhibition Fanatic Heart, curated by Cusson Cheng, in search of an alternative approach to reimagine the political potential of celebrity culture through the lens of fandom. The fifteen artists in the exhibition locate the impulse of fandom culture in sociopolitical happenings that have taken place across Southeast and East Asia by drawing new connections between celebrity worship, drag, postcolonial and post-socialist identities, religion, and the rise of various social movements. Within this intersection, the exhibition repositions the concept of fandom to explore its evolution in relation to shifts among media, technology, and geopolitical change.
The Chinese exhibition title, which translates to “a fanatic’s diary,” references the short story titled Diary of a Madman (1918) written by Lu Xun, a leading figure of modern Chinese literature, who in turn was inspired by the Russian writer of Ukrainian descent Nikolai Gogol’s work of the same title. The intertextuality of these two works echoes the idea of a madman who sees reality more clearly than those around him. In a similar vein, the artists of Fanatic Heart can be interpreted as fans who passionately engage in the creation of works that span acts of creation and critical thinking concerning their subject matter. Their practices connect a scholarly mode of research with personal impulses guided by processes related to multifaceted identification and desire. On the other hand, viewers are encouraged to peel off tailor-made stickers on the exhibition catalogue cover and affix them to the interior pages to reveal select artwork images, creating a fan diary of their own through active engagement.