In this presentation, Ziying Duan, recipient of the 2016 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation China Research Grant, will share reflections and conclusions from her year-long research project into experimental art activities in Guangdong, China, from the late 1990s to early 2000s. Taking the exhibition Canton Express, curated by Hou Hanru for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, as a departure point, this presentation will expand on discussions of a regional art identity and consider contemporary art from Guangdong in light of “the spatial turn” seen in cultural and curatorial practices around the turn of the millennium.
Following the presentation, Duan will be joined by Xu Tan, artist and member of the Big Tail Elephant Group, one of the four participating artist groups featured in Canton Express. In their discussion, they will consider these questions: How do we make sense of artists in relationship to their regional affiliations? What are the dangers of analysing art practices primarily based on a shared urban context? Can there be a regionally themed exhibition without localism?
Ziying Duan was born in China and is currently based in San Francisco. Duan holds an MA in curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts and a BA in art history from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. She was previously assistant curator at the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, and at Kadist, San Francisco, where she handled Asia-related programming. Her upcoming curatorial project reconsiders the role of religion in the immigrant experience and in the Civil Rights Movement.
Xu Tan was born in China in 1957 and graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. In 1993, he became a member of the Big Tail Elephant Group (Da Wei Xiang), an experimental art collective formed in Guangzhou. His work has been shown at Location 1 Art Center, New York; YBCA, San Francisco; the Berlin, Jakarta, Gwangju, Venice, Shanghai, and Sharjah Biennales; and the Guangzhou Triennial, among other international exhibitions. He has received artist-in-residence fellowships from DAAD, Berlin and the Asia Culture Council, New York. He currently lives between the Pearl River Delta, China and New York.