Canton Express and the Pearl River Delta
In 2003, a group of artists and independent art organisations based in the Guangdong province of southern China collaborated on a project called Canton Express. Hou Hanru, a Paris-based Cantonese curator, commissioned it for Z.O.U. — Zone of Urgency, an exhibition at the 50th Venice Biennale.
Guangdong has a long history of being one of the most prosperous regions of China. Since the 1970s, the area (along with Hong Kong and Macau) has been known as the Pearl River Delta (PRD). There, the government implemented a series of experimental polices and economic models, such as designating Shenzhen and Zhuhai as Special Economic Regions. They also developed manufacturing industries in collaboration with entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the PRD rose to international prominence in the fields of contemporary architecture, urbanism, and art, propelled by Hou Hanru’s curatorial projects, Rem Koolhaas’ research and writing, and exhibitions initiated by new institutions from within the region, such as Guangdong Museum of Art and He Xiangning Museum.
This work on the Pearl River Delta delivers a more complex analysis of the region’s geopolitical context, subverting the dominant discourse of the nation state. As a case study, the PRD tells the story of hybridity: a culture deeply rooted in local history, shaped by frequent migration, and formed by the confluence of modern colonial and global influences. Artists responded to their marginal position within China and the world in an inspirational fashion.
These selected materials include articles and videos about the topic as well as publications relating to a series of relevant projects. Asia Art Archive is spotlighting these items in conjunction with the restaging of Canton Express at M+ Pavilion from 23 June to 10 September 2017. AAA participated in developing the research and archival components of that exhibition.
Recommended Materials and Reading
Book of Changes: Libreria Borges of Gwangju Biennale. Guangzhou, China: Libreria Borges, 2002. REFS. LIB
Cao Fei: PRD Anti-Heroes. Sittard, Netherlands: Museum Het Domein Sittard, 2006. MON.CAF
Chen Tong, Why was there no New Wave Movement in Guangdong? 25 Responses, Painter Magazine, 1991 no. 5. PER.PAI
DELTA CRISIS / analysis. Hong Kong: Happening Group, China: Museum W, 2005. EX.CHN DEC
Great Leap Forward, edited by Jeffrey INABA, Judy Chuihua CHUNG, Rem KOOLHAAS, and Szetsung LEONG. Koln, Germany: Taschen, 2001. REF.CCH7
Gwangju Biennale 2002 - Project 1: Pause Conception. South Korea: Gwangju Biennale Press, 2002. EX.KOR
Landscape of Sur-consuming, Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space, 2002. EXS.CHN.LSC
Location 2. Guangzhou, China: The World Bookstore, 1999. REFS.LIB
Nu ren zong shi mei li de. Guangzhou, China: Libreria Borges, 1999. MONS.YAY
Operation PRD - Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows. Guangzhou, China: Times Museum, 2016. MON.BTE
Photographs of Feng Qianyu. Guangzhou, China: Libreria Borges, 1999. MONS.FQY
PRD Anti-Heroes: A Theater Project by Cao Fei. Guangzhou, China: Guangdong Museum of Art, 2005. MONS.CAF
StopOver Hong Kong, Hong Kong: Hanart TZ Gallery, 2004。EX.HGK.SOH
第二屆廣州三年展 | 別樣: 一個特殊的現代化實驗空間 | 三角洲實驗室1 (D-Lab 1)。中國廣州；嶺南美術出版社，2004。
The Second Guangzhou Triennial | BEYOND: An Extraordinary Space of Experimentation for Modernization | D-Lab 1, edited by Hans Ulrich OBRIST, HOU Hanru and WANG Huangsheng. Guangzhou, China: Lingnan Art Publishing House, 2004. REF.GZT
第二屆廣州三年展 | 別樣: 一個特殊的現代化實驗空間 | 三角洲實驗室2 (D-Lab 2)。中國廣州；嶺南美術出版社，2007。
The Second Guangzhou Triennial | BEYOND: An Extraordinary Space of Experimentation for Modernization | D-Lab 2, edited by Hans Ulrich OBRIST, HOU Hanru and WANG Huangsheng. Guangzhou, China: Lingnan Art Publishing House, 2007. REF GZT
交易場域: 珠江三角洲的當代藝術與文化想像, 2007。
Trading Places: Contemporary Art and Cultural Imaginaries of the Pearl River Delta, edited by CHOW Szechung, Matthew TURNER, PANG Sinkwok Beatrix and TANG Siuwai. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Art School, Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2007. REF.HKAS
Trade Routes: History + Geography. Johannesburg, South Africa: Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council; Amersterdam, Netherlands: Prince Claus Fung for Culture and Development, 1997. EX.SOA.JBB.1997
Woodcut of Liu Qingyuan. Guangzhou, China: Libreria Borges Institute for Contemporary Art, 1999. MONS.LQY
典藏國際版, 台北: 典藏雜誌社, 2003年6月, 第2卷, 第2期。
Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Volume 2, Number 2, June 2003. Taipei, Taiwan: Art & Collection Group. PER.YIS
典藏國際版，台北: 典藏雜誌社，2004年3月，第3卷, 第1期。
Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2004. Taipei, Taiwan: Art & Collection Group. PER.YIS
Anthony Yung is AAA Researcher.
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