Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China
Urbanized Interface

Edited by Minna Valjakka and Meiqin Wang. Asian Cities series. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.

This edited volume provides a multifaceted investigation of the dynamic interrelations between visual arts and urbanization in contemporary Mainland China with a focus on unseen representations and urban interventions brought about by the transformations of the urban space and the various problems associated with it. Through a wide range of illuminating case studies, the authors demonstrate how innovative artistic and creative practices initiated by various stakeholders not only raise critical awareness on sociopolitical issues of Chinese urbanization but also actively reshape the urban living spaces. The formation of new collaborations, agencies, aesthetics and cultural production sites facilitate diverse forms of cultural activism as they challenge the dominant ways of interpreting social changes and encourage civic participation in the production of alternative meanings in and of the city. Their  significance lies in their potential to question current values and power structures as well as to foster new subjectivities for disparate individuals and social groups.

Table of contents and introduction.

Cover image: Jin Feng,  Wordless Petitions , 2006.

Cover image: Jin Feng, Wordless Petitions, 2006.

Cover image: Hung Liu,  Chinese Profile III , 1998.

Cover image: Hung Liu, Chinese Profile III, 1998.


enemmän kuin puoli taivasta: kiinalainen nainen historiassa, yhteiskunnassa ja kulttuurissa

[More Than Half the Sky: Chinese Women in History, Society and Culture.]

Edited by Tiina Airaksinen, Elina Sinkkonen, and Minna Valjakka. 2nd ed. Helsinki: Art House 2016.

Winner of the 2016 Kanava Award, which is granted annually to the best Finnish nonfiction work in politics, society, history or culture. The work is an interdisciplinary study challenging the prevailing perceptions of Chinese women's submissive role in the past and today through in-depth case studies deriving from the intersections of sociopolitical and cultural spheres: feminisms and female activism; gender gaps in politics, education and the labour market; the role of religions; and representations in visual arts and literature. The first book on the timely topic published in Finnish consists of 12 articles, nine information boxes, 33 images and timelines written by Finnish, Chinese and European scholars (contents in English). Image editing by Minna Valjakka.

Article by Suomen Kuvalehti (in Finnish).

Many Faces cover.jpg


Minna Valjakka. Doctoral dissertation (monograph). Helsinki: Unigrafia, 2011.

Employing the interdisciplinary approach of visual studies and using image as the main concept, this research combines different theoretical frameworks derived from art history, image studies and social sciences for each chapter in order to explain the origins, intentions and major strategies of contemporary Chinese artists. The focus of this research was to elucidate how Mao's visual image, formed during the Maoist era, is re-created and negotiated in contemporary Chinese artwork. The material reproductions -- the visual images in contemporary art – are juxtaposed with immaterial mental images of Mao that were created during the Maoist era through original visual images of the leader. This complex interaction between visual and mental images is further exemplified by artwork that does not include Mao's visual image but still implies his mental image.


Kuvia Kiinasta / pieces of china        

Minna Valjakka with Michael Wolf. Tampere: Museum Centre Vapriikki, 2007. Bilingual exhibition catalogue of a retrospective exhibition based on Michael Wolf's photography and collections. Includes ten articles, single-authored by Minna Valjakka, on the transformations brought about by sociopolitical and cultural circumstances in both Mainland China and Hong Kong. The articles provide an in-depth contextualization of the utopia aimed for during the Maoist period together with the contemporary prevailing realities of the shadows of growing globalization. Images by Michael Wolf.