The fifteen artists in the exhibition locate the impulse of fandom culture in socio-political 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 means ‘a fanatic’s diary’, references Diary of a Madman written by Lu Xun, a leading figure of modern Chinese literature, who in turn was inspired by Ukrainian Russian-born writer 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, the 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.
While ‘Fanatic Heart’ is seemingly an elixir of pop cultural offerings that provides outlets from the hardships of our daily life, it nevertheless prompts the audience to realise the potent political power behind these fanatical desires and employ them to make sense of the polarised world we live in.