Qianyue (Jackie) Xu (pronunciation) studies the operational mechanism of organizations and institutions and their critiques. Their current project focuses on labor organizing in the art world. Specifically, they investigate how art institutions create, normalize, and reproduce the disconnect between their radical mission statements and their internal resistance to collective action.
Prior to Columbia, Jackie received their Master of Science in Architecture Studies degree in History, Theory, Criticism of Architecture and Art from MIT in 2022. Their thesis, titled “‘Scraping and Bloodletting’: Xiamen Dada and the Self-Renewing System of Reform-Era Art,” takes up the case study of Xiamen Dada, an art collective active in the 1980s in Xiamen, China, whose work targeted the institutional framework of art. Through extensive archival research and interviews with former members, Jackie deconstructs Xiamen Dada’s “radicality”—much heralded in the published literature on the collective—as exchanges, negotiations, and engineered equilibriums between control and calculated freedom in a rule-bound, self-renewing system that was Reform-Era China. They argue that the radicality of Xiamen Dada lies not in the illusory breakaway from the art establishment, but in their repeated testing and recalibration of the optimal amount of stress that would stimulate the body of the art establishment to seek out a new form of health without triggering a complete destruction of its unity.
Jackie’s broad research interests correspond to their multidisciplinary training in sociology, art history, and creative industries. Among other topics, their recent projects look at polyamorous relationships through the lens of network analysis; the role of historians in the courtroom; the legal discourse around sound weapons; the politics of nutritional science in late colonial Africa; and the strategic visual rhetoric of Fermilab.
Jackie received their BA from the University of Hong Kong in 2020. They have firsthand experience as an art worker serving as museum attendant/curatorial assistant/participating artist/print-maker at art institutions in Hong Kong, Beijing, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Cambridge, MA.