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6 一月

Art Radar Asia

Posted on 02/01/2014

What are the best sources of information on China’s complex, vibrant contemporary culture? Curator and academic Rachel Marsden reveals her top tips.

With the ever growing flow of information flooding the internet, finding high quality information can be daunting, particularly when it comes to a subject as multifarious as Chinese art. Independent curator and academic Rachel Marsden gives her advice on where to find useful and up-to-date information on Chinese contemporary art and culture online.

Ai Weiwei, 'Map of China', 2006, ironwood (Tieli mu) from dismantled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) temples, 40 x 92.7 x 80 cm. Stockamp Tsai Collection. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Ai Weiwei, ‘Map of China’, 2006, ironwood (Tieli mu) from dismantled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) temples, 40 x 92.7 x 80 cm. Stockamp Tsai Collection. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

As the digital age progresses at a frenetic pace in what is China’s century, there is always the question of how to document and archive information and perspectives on Chinese contemporary art and culture. Moreover, there is the issue of how to share all this information, much of which is created in an instantaneous and somewhat fleeting way.

This article is the first in a series looking into where to find information on Chinese contemporary art and culture digitally, online via your laptop, tablet or phone. Future articles will look at what is offered through video and film, personal blogs, the Twittersphere and Instagram, among other platforms.

1. Randian

Launched in 2010, Randian is a growing online magazine, professionally designed and articulately conceived, with a primary focus on fostering cultural debate on Chinese contemporary art, as well as video, architecture and design, both in China and across the rest of the world.

2. Uncut Talks

A sound or audio magazine that acts as an open platform presenting unmoderated conversations from China and around the world. Discussions revolve around some of the most challenging and provocative topics of our time, including contemporary art, social innovation, design, music and more. The project is a collaboration between artists Ma Yongfeng (Forget Art), Alessandro Rolandi and art critic Edward Sanderson.

Qiu Zhijie, "The Universe of Naming", installation view at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Qiu Zhijie, “The Universe of Naming”, installation view at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong

3. CAFA Art Info

An organisation based out of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. Taking a more journalistic and blog-style approach, CAFA Art Info promotes contemporary Chinese artists and art news whilst encouraging cultural debate in China and the rest of the world.

4. Blouin Art Info – China and Hong Kong

This online magazine provides the latest finger-on-the-pulse global news on contemporary art and culture now focussing on China and Hong Kong. Often information, articles, photo galleries and videos go online as the event is happening. Short and sharp presentation is provided daily.

5. Chinese Visual Culture

Find William Andrew Albano on Facebook and Twitter for a broad-based commentary on Chinese art and culture news from the neolithic to the present, and how Chinese culture is placed in the global domain.

Gao Brothers, 'Sense of Space - Wake', 2000, Photograph, 180 x 230 cm, in Between Spiritual and Material Spaces: the Photographic World of the Gao Brothers at Hua Gallery, Image courtesy the Hua Gallery.

Gao Brothers, ‘Sense of Space – Wake’, 2000, Photograph, 180 x 230 cm, in Between Spiritual and Material Spaces: the Photographic World of the Gao Brothers at Hua Gallery, Image courtesy the Hua Gallery

6. Arts of China Consortium

Hosted by Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, this is an invaluable go-to website to find out about talks, conferences, symposia, events, grants and funding, and jobs in and relating to China and East Asia. It is intended to promote an understanding of Chinese art history whilst encouraging informal dialogue. The information is compiled largely by Nixi Cura, who runs the Arts of China course at Christie’s Education, London.

7. Curating Chinese Contemporary Network at CFCCA

A brand new initiative set up by the Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester (UK). The network aims to become an active collection of people working together to create projects and discuss relevant cultural ideas related to China today. Sign up to gain exclusive access to their dedicated network blog and research archive, and to be invited to future network and conference events across the United Kingdom. Network members are also invited to share any relevant information and current research to further extend the network.

8. Asian Cultural Council

Comprehensive e-newsletter that informs of cultural exchange happening between institutions in the United States and Asia regarding research, study and projects within Asian contexts. Not China specific but, like the CFCCA, the Asian Cultural Council wants to expand and create networks across the world.

9. ArtAsiaPacific blog

Run alongside ArtAsiaPacific’s print and online magazine, the blog presents further perspectives on art and culture from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. Although not China-focused, AAP’s online resource provides in-depth articles on the bigger players and forerunners in the scene.

10. Art-Ba-Ba

This is one of the most active Chinese art communities and forum websites used in China to share any information relating to Chinese contemporary art. Art-Ba-Ba includes short exhibition reviews, articles and open discussion. It is largely in Chinese, but more and more content is being added in English.

11. artlinkart

An ever-growing bilingual (English and Chinese) online database project for Chinese contemporary art that aims to build an extensive archive with accurate and subjective knowledge. You will find surface-level reference information that is less critically minded.

12. Chinatown Art Space

Run out of London, Chinatown Art Space is an organisation supporting British East Asian performing and visual arts. The regular e-newsletter delivers information about things happening in and around the Unite Kingdom with global partnerships.

13. Asian Contemporary Arts Consortium (ACAC) Newsletter

Run from San Francisco, ACAC aims to build audiences, promote and sustain interest in Asian contemporary arts and design in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and is also trying to place itself nationally and internationally. Their e-newsletter is another point of reference as to what art events and exhibitions are going on.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is an independent curator, PhD researcher and writer in the field of contemporary Asian art, particularly Chinese contemporary art. Currently, she works at Manchester’s CFCCA and divides her time between the UK and China.

10 五月
China Residencies maintains a growing directory of residency offerings available to foreigners.
China Residencies maintains a growing directory of residency offerings available to foreigners.


SAN FRANCISCO — As interest in China grows, so does interest in its art scene. And while I’ve met countless artists in the US who have wanted to travel to China, the barriers to access remain high, due to language, culture, and cost.

A New China Residency Initiative


Last year, I wrote about residencies in China that are worth considering, but there are dozens more. China Residencies, a new nonprofit started by longtime China-based artists/art lovers Crystal Ruth Bell and Kira Simon-Kennedy, aims to help Western artists navigate the wide range of opportunities.


“We think there are between 30 and 50 programs active right now,” wrote Simon-Kennedy in an email to Hyperallergic. Bell, who directed the residency program at Red Gate Gallery, saw that many of these residencies received little coverage outside of China.


“Crystal started meeting with residency admins in 2010 to talk about the unique challenges of existing in China: residencies relied almost entirely on word-of-mouth to attract applicants, and sometimes had a difficult time filling spots with qualified artists. The lack of visibility also limited the amount of funding visiting artists and programs could receive,” she said.


Bell and Simon-Kennedy are currently raising money on Indiegogo to fund the project, which includes a research trip throughout China to understand the wide variety of residency opportunities. Their directorycurrently lists 22 residencies, most of which are in Beijing, and they plan to add additional resources such as residency reviews and practical resources for China travelers. They’ll also be sharing their knowledge with existing projects like ResArtis and Residency Unlimited, who are supporting their work.

UNCUT TALKS: SoundCloud meets public radio meets China's art scene
UNCUT TALKS: SoundCloud meets public radio meets China’s art scene


UNCUT TALKS: A New Audio Magazine from China


Can’t travel to China just yet? Never fear. Around this same time, I was contacted by Beijing artist Ma Yongfeng about a new audio magazine he’s been producing with Hyperallergic contributor Alessandro Rolandi and arts writer Edward Sanderson. Consisting of unedited audio discussions uploaded to Soundcloud,UNCUT TALKS, as Ma writes on his blog, is a platform that “collects, and makes available for everyone to listen to, hours of conversations among interesting people in China and around the world on some of the most challenging and provocative topics of our time.”


So far, the magazine includes some 30 interviews, with a wide variety of individuals from China’s art scene, conducted in both Chinese and English. Although translations are not yet available for the Chinese audio, the channel is a great way to bring some of the aesthetics and intimacy of audio recordings to an art world community that can seem dense and complex to outsiders.


I’m excited about both projects and look forward to seeing how they move forward. Art fosters unique forms of dialogue that only seem more and more important given China’s increase presence on the world stage.


“China is a very complicated place, and at times when the government of the People’s Republic clashes with other nations on countless topics, we think helping foster more dialogue on the citizen level through artistic exchange will lead to a greater mutual understanding,” Simon-Kennedy explained.

21 四月

In a detailed description of the show “Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art” in Vancouver, Jennifer Hall writes about the works of Chinese artists Remon Wang, Ge Fei, Lin Zhen, Zhang Lehua, and Lu Yang. She also introduces the age of social media art and the censored internet environment of China it has stemmed from, in hopes of a strong beginning for this progressive and important new art form.


“Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art” explores issues associated with the expansion and censorship of social media in modern life in China. The resulting collection of works is a heady cocktail of artistic stealth and political subterfuge.


The messages of most of the art works in “Virtual Voices” are restrained, perhaps a little too subtle for audiences in Vancouver to grasp given the cultural context of the art — the exception being Remon Wang’s political cartoons. His colourful, eye-catching, comedic digital illustrations poke fun at official government responses to corrupt individuals, environmental issues and family tragedies.


Wang’s works are openly critical of authority and as a result, can only be viewed online. An official, public exhibition would be virtually impossible, therefore, social media (via his Weibo accounts until they are found and blocked by censors) is his prime channel of distribution.


But, does Wang’s work constitute “social media art”?


The broad definition of social media art (SMA) is evolving, but generally it is accepted that SMA includes some online audience involvement and the development of social relationships. For example, an artist initiates a concept, launches it onto a social media platform and then tracks and documents the progress of the online responses.


In an article published in Yishu’s May/June issue, An Xiao Mina, an American new media artist who has worked in China, in conversation with “Virtual Voices” curator Diana Freundl, noted that “social media art has a different character in China” (p.102) and that few Chinese artists and institutions have embraced the inclusion of audience participation in their art practice.


One of the exhibited art works that fits the above definition of SMA is the Youth Apartment Exchange Program, a project by the Beijing-based collective, Forget Art. Using Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), participants can arrange to temporarily swap homes. Online, then offline, relationships are developed and the participants are then asked to document their experiences online.


This project quietly comments on the strict controls that regulate where Chinese citizens can live. Unfortunately, documentation of the participants’ virtual voices is missing. Snippets of online conversations (translated into English) and analysis (the dissent, the boredom, the disgust, the distrust and the delight) would draw the non-participating gallery visitor into a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Chinese contemporary life and art.


Ge Fei and Lin Zhen’s project involved commissioning a band to create several songs which they later distributed copyright-free via Chinese online music sharing platforms. While in Vancouver, the artists used similar platforms and social media (including Twitter, Facebook and other blogs banned in China) to share their music with online and offline audiences. But again the documentation of the interactive relationships was limited — making the social media event less accessible for non-participating observers.


More text was needed to outline the social outcome of the online art event. Future exhibitions of SMA may require the art world to soften its reluctance to document and interpret art with words. If there is a reason to include more text on the walls of the white cube, it is the need for additional commentary about Chinese social media art — especially if the work is being viewed by Western audiences.


Zhang Lehua addresses the reality of social media in China with a satirical commentary “Facebook Art Demo,” a video about the production of an official government-sanctioned Facebook.


The instructor demonstrates how to create a Facebook page, starting with the slow application of lipstick. While reciting the text of a poem, he bends and kisses a page of a traditional folding scroll. Then, he elegantly brushes ink around the lipstick in a wide circle — in lonely isolation, he repeats the kiss and brushwork on each consecutive page. The end result is a bound, not wired or wireless, book of faceless faces. At its surface the video is hilarious but the inner message points at the continuing pressures on Chinese netizens to maintain anonymity.


Also commenting on social media rather than using it as a medium, Lu Yang’s work, which includes skeletons hooked up with cyber wires, is also about power and control. Ironically, her work questions the potential advances of artificial intelligence and the worrying outcome if humans lose control of Web 3.0; technological advances that go beyond the clever applications of social media. Instead of directly criticizing the way in which humans try to control each other, Lu’s work comments of the worrying outcome if artificial intelligence is left unchecked to self-evolve and take control of humanity.


This brave exhibition is one of the first of its kind; it breaks new ground and also establishes an important base-line of artistic responses by Chinese artists to social media, and ultimately China’s current censorship issues. A similar exhibition in five years will be an extraordinary witness of political progress (hopefully).


Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art in China,” group exhibition.


Charles H. Scott Gallery (Emily Carr University of Art and Design, 1399 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada). June 6 – July 8, 2012.