An investigation into performative art practices in Chengdu from 1995 to 2001

 

In this presentation, curator and researcher Petra Poelzl discusses her field research on the overlooked performance art scene in Chengdu during the 1990s. 

According to Poelzl, the China/Avant-Garde Exhibition in 1989 was a turning point for performance art in Mainland China, with a series of notable performances—including ones by Beijing East Village artists who tested the limits of their bodies, and works by other artists in the late 1990s who used animal or human corpses to reflect on their sociopolitical circumstances. Around this time, performance art also started to become a popular form in Chengdu—where practitioners worked closely with the media and the government. The Chengdu artists generated awareness for local social and environmental problems through participatory and socially-engaged actions, providing a counterpoint to their peers in the capital city. 

Poelzl begins her investigation into the Chengdu performance art scene with the collaborative art activist event Keepers of the Waters (1995), which was initiated by the New York–based performance artist Betsy Damon. The event had a big influence on the local art scene, and resulted in the formation of the 719 Artist Studio Alliance, who organised performative events and ephemeral group exhibitions in public spaces until the turn of the millennium.

Free and open to the public with registration.

Asia Art Archive Research Grant 2017 Grantee Petra Poelzl is a freelance curator, dramaturge, and researcher based in Berlin, Germany, and Graz, Austria. Her PhD research at the Free University in Berlin centres on performative art practices after the post–shock art boom in China. She has been involved in numerous projects focusing on Chinese contemporary art, including Zhou Bin: Nothing to Say, Museum of Contemporary Art Chengdu (2016); Corporate, Xu Zhen (Produced by MadeIn Company), Kunsthaus Graz (2015); and Up-On Performance Art Festival (2016 and 2017) in Chengdu. Poelzl was a dramaturge for steirischer herbst Festival for New Art in Graz (2014–16). Since 2016, she has been working closely with artist Tianzhuo Chen on his stage performances. In 2018, Poelzl will serve as the co-curator of ACUD gallery, a project space in Berlin.

 

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