Exhibition as Site - Extended Case Study (China 1993)

"Although experimental artists from China had begun to participate in overseas exhibitions since the late 1980s, 1993 was a watershed year. In that year an unusually large number of medium to large scale shows focused almost exclusively on contemporary art from inside mainland China were presented for the first time outside mainland China, in Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Italy and the United States. These exhibitions included a wide range of media – painting, sculpture, installation and even performance, although it was the subset of paintings associated with Political Pop and Cynical Realist styles that achieved disproportionate media attention, to take a highly visible position in the developing canon of Chinese art. What were the political and economic, social and aesthetic urgencies to which these exhibitions were responding? What cultural conventions did these exhibitions contest and what new frameworks of art historical value did they propose? What was at stake for the curators and the artists? How did the site of display, institutional and geographic, inform the curatorial proposition, its shape and reception? How did these exhibitions compare to those taking place inside China at the time? Did the critical response differ outside and inside China, and if so, why? In the continuing absence of museums and academic programmes dedicated to the study of recent art from China, what was the impact of these 'offshore' exhibitions on artistic practice and the developing narrative of Chinese contemporary art? In this panel, key participants in three seminal 1993 exhibitions –'China Avantgarde' in Berlin, 'China's New Art, Post 1989' in Hong Kong, and the Venice Biennale – will consider these questions and share their experiences and insights into the role of exhibitions as sites of art historical construction."

-    Jane DeBevoise


Julia F. Andrews, independent scholar, Hong Kong and New York with
Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive

In conversation with
Francesca Dal Lago, independent scholar, Vicenza
Kong Chang'an, independent curator, Los Angeles
Wang Youshen, artist, Beijing
Andreas Schmid, artist and independent curator, Berlin
Chang Tsong-zung, curator and Director, Hanart TZ Gallery

Julia F. Andrews is Professor of Art History at Ohio State University. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, working under James Cahill. Her first book, Painters and Politics in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979 (1994), was awarded the Levenson Prize by the Association for Asian Studies. Her most recent book, Art of Modern China, co-authored with Kuiyi Shen (2012), won the Humanities Book Prize of the International Conference of Asia Scholars (ICAS). She co-curated one of the first American exhibitions of Chinese installation art, ‘Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile,’ at OSU's Wexner Center for the Arts (1993), along with the Guggenheim Museum's ground-breaking 1998 exhibition, ‘A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth Century China,’ and ‘Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985,’ (2013) at Asia Society, Hong Kong Center.
Anthony Yung is Senior Researcher at Asia Art Archive, specialising in research projects related to China. He manages AAA's major research project 'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990,' which has produced more than 100 interviews with artists, critics, scholars, and other participants and collected a significant amount of research materials about Chinese contemporary art from the late 1970s to early 1990s. His writings about Chinese and Hong Kong art have been published in Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Leap, Contemporary Art and Investment,and artforum.com.cn, to name a few.
Francesca Dal Lago is an art historian whose work focuses on the history of 20th century Chinese art and visual culture. She holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and a BA in Chinese Language and Culture from the University of Venice, Italy. During the late 1980s and early 1990s she lived in Beijing for a period of six years, first as a foreign exchange student and later as an employee of the Cultural Office of the Italian Embassy. In 1993, she organized the first large participation of artists from mainland China to the 45th Venice Biennale. Dal Lago has written widely on contemporary art, Communist political art, and commercial advertising. She is now working on a book on the artistic exchanges between France and China in the interwar period and on a volume of collected essays on display practices of Chinese art and material culture. She lives and works in Paris.
Kong Chang’an is a critic, curator and artist. In 1978-1982, he studied in the English department at the Xi'an International Studies University. During this period, he organized and participated in ‘Xi’an Modern Art Exhibition.’ In 1988, he graduated with a M.A. degree from the art history department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. After graduation, he worked at the Beijing International Art Palace and the Art Gallery of Central Academy of Fine Arts. He participated in the organizing committee of the ‘China/Avant-Garde Exhibition’ in 1989. Between1991 and 1993, Kong attended the University of Bologna in Italy, studying in the visual art department. In early 1992, using the penname ‘Chan, Lauk'ung’, he published an influential early article ’Ten Years of the Chinese Avant-garde: Waiting for the Curtain to Fall’ in Flash Art. In 1993, he was one of the curators of the ‘Aperto’ section at the Venice Biennial. In late 1990s he moved to the USA and currently lives and works in California.
Wang Youshen is an artist and scholar who lives and works in Beijing. Upon graduation from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1988, Wang became the art editor of Beijing Youth Daily which, under his leadership, became one of the major media platforms for information and analysis about contemporary art in China during the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1991 Wang organized the ‘New Generation’ exhibition at the Chinese History Museum in Beijing, and in 1993 he was a participating artist in the ‘Aperto’ section of the 45th Venice Biennale, curated by Kong Chang’an. In 1993, he also wrote on the Chinese participation in the Biennale which was later published in Jiangsu Pictorial. Other exhibitions in which Wang has participated include the ‘China/Avant-Garde Exhibition’ (National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 1989), the Taipei Biennial (2000) and the Shanghai Biennial (2004), to name a few.
Andreas Schmid is an artist, curator and writer who lives and works in Berlin. During the 1980s, he studied Chinese calligraphy and art history at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou (now China Academy of Art). Since 1983 Schmid has been working on the public perception of experimental art in China in Europe. Together with Hans van Dijk and Jochen Noth, he curated the exhibition ‘China Avant-Garde’ which was presented first at the House of World Cultures in Berlin in 1993, before it toured to Rotterdam, Oxford, Odense and Hildesheim. In addition to his curatorial and artistic practices, he teaches Chinese calligraphy and contemporary history of ink painting at the HfBK Dresden.
Chang Tsong-zung is a curator, a guest professor of China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, director of Hanart TZ Gallery and co-founder of Asia Art Archive. He has been active in curating Chinese exhibitions since the 1980s and has organized many landmark exhibitions including ‘China’s New Art Post-1989’ (tour 1993-1998), Special Exhibitions at the Sao Paulo International Biennial in 1994 and 1996, and Hong Kong’s official participation at Sao Paulo Biennial 1996 and Venice Biennial 2001. Other major curatorial projects include the ‘Power of the Word’ (1999-2002) series of exhibitions, ‘Strange Heaven: Chinese Contemporary Photography’ (2002), ‘Yellow Box’ (since 2005) series of research projects about contemporary art practice and Chinese space, Guangzhou Triennial 2008 ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’, ‘West Heavens’ projects of India-China social thought and contemporary art (since 2010), and the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012.

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