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The Concept of Frankenstein in Translation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4368-3097
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In 1931 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus of 1818 was adapted for the screen by James Whale and became one of the monster classics. A few years later, in 1935, a romantic subplot of the story was produced under the title Bride of Frankenstein. Ever since the 1930s Boris Karloff’s iconic performance of the misunderstood patch work monster keeps inspiring producers of films, TV-series and art. Steven Spielberg’s science fiction drama A. I., Artificial Intelligence of 2001 is a modern example of how certain ideas of the story have been kept alive; that is how a scientist constructs artificial beings for his own winning and then fails them. With this said, less is known about how a scientific horror romance and its film adaptation may have travelled to the context of China and the medium of staged photography and what such a transfer between cultures means in terms of interpretation.

This paper initially discusses word and image crossovers transgressing cultural borders and deals with how hybrid images can be interpreted when located in Homi Bhabha’s “Third Space”. With Chinese artist Qiu Zhen’s staged photograph Satan’s Wedding No. 5 of 2008 as a case study my paper examines how Mary Shelley’s original story of Frankenstein and the film Bride of Frankenstein both play important roles for the interpretation of Satan’s Wedding. However, more specifically this paper discusses notions of “Chineseness” and focuses on how something “foreign” may engage with “Chineseness” and how indeed “Chineseness” may be emphasized through the usage of something “foreign”. Thus, the paper will approach the concept of “Chineseness” from yet another possible angle, that is, as a wearer of a foreign coat, something that has proved to be successful for some artists when participating with their art on the international scene.

Within this literary-photographical and cross-cultural panorama I would like to discuss Satan’s Wedding of 2008 as a translation of the internationally acclaimed story of Frankenstein. Not only is the staging engaging closely with its “sources” but it also proves to have departed from it. Satan’s Wedding eventually presents a new narrative that is concerned with problems tied to the Chinese context with the aim to in a “soft” way engage its viewers with something painful within the Chinese socio-political and economic context of the time when it was produced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Interpretation, hybridity, Frankenstein, Contemporary Chinese Art, Conceptual Chinese Photography, Qiu Zhen
National Category
Art History
Research subject
Asian Languages and Cultures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120920OAI: diva2:855006
International Symposium: "Chineseness in Contemporary Chinese Art Discourse and Practice", Lisbon, Portugal, March 16-19, 2015
Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-09-18 Last updated: 2016-10-14

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Aggeklint, Eva
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Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies
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