Can We Talk about Dialogue?

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Can We Talk About Dialogue? A Prescript to Art and China after 1989,” David Borgonjon’s take on the current contemporary Chinese art exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York. The essay appears below, but is best read online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/borgonjon/

Enjoy, Kirk

Can We Talk about Dialogue
A Pre-script to Art and China after 1989

By David Borgonjon


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December 2017)


Xiao Lu, Dialogue, 1989, performance and installation.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York currently has on view an expansive survey of Chinese contemporary art; as many of the reviews on the subject show, it focuses on the long shadow of Tiananmen. Yet, this survey is also an opportunity to rewrite the art-historical period that Theater of the World: Art and China, 1989-2008 covers. Such a rewritten narrative could do worse than to zone in from the scale of the state to the scale of the family; love, the origin story, retells the institution of the family as a voluntary association in the age of the market. If this is a story about 1989, it is different than the one we were told. Continue reading

Tango Gao finds art and humor in the mundane

Source: Sup China (12/12/17)
Tango Gao Finds Art And Humor In The Mundane
Beloved Shanghai illustrator and visual artist releases his first English book in the U.S.
By Jiayun Feng

I meet the comic illustrator known as Tango — real name Gao Youjun 高幼军 — in a studio in the West Village on a chilly day in early December. He is dressed casually and neatly, in a dark green plaid shirt and black-framed glasses, giving off an air of ease and simplicity — two features that also define his work: penguins standing in formation; various animals looking at their shadows; cats playing Go. Fresh off a signing event for his first English book, Backside of the Moon, Gao looks relaxed and satisfied, as if he’s exactly where he belongs. Continue reading

Ai Weiwei on “Human Flow”

List members may be interested in this interview with Ai Weiwei on HUMAN FLOW–Ai’s lyrical, investigative documentary on the global refugee crisis–conducted by my colleague Cynthia Rowell and I for CINEASTE magazine. We discussed art, activism, beauty, freedom, and humanity. Many questions focus on Ai’s growth as a liberated, cosmopolitan artist from China and belonging to the world. Thank you for your time!

https://www.cineaste.com/winter2017/interview-with-ai-weiwei

Best regards,

Lulu Chen <luciachn@gmail.com>

Pan Tianshou exhibition in Hangzhou

Source: China Daily (12/5/17)
Largest Pan Tianshou exhibition opens in Hangzhou

Poster of the exhibition. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

An Ethos of Fortitude – The Exhibition in Commemoration of Pan Tianshou’s 120th Anniversary, opened Friday at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province. The exhibition is the largest presentation of Pan’s works, with over 120 pieces of his artwork and manuscripts.

Pan Tianshou was a master of Chinese painting and an educator on art in the 20th century. He was born in Zhejiang province, and later took up positions as president of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art), vice-president of the China Artists Association and vice-president of the Xiling Seal Engravers Society. Continue reading

Tate fellowship

Open Call
Visiting Fellowship Scheme 2018

Tate welcomes applications for the Tate Research Centre: Asia Visiting Fellowship Scheme.

This Visiting Fellowship Scheme provides scholars and curators the opportunity to realise a short-term research project in the field of modern and contemporary Asian art. Individuals engaged in the programme will be able to access information relating to works in the Tate collection and draw on the resources in Tate’s library and archive.  This is an ideal opportunity for a scholar or curator who wishes to undertake research at Tate and is keen to share their work on an international platform. The terms of the individual fellowships will be agreed after consultation with the successful applicants. However, all fellows are expected to:

  • Produce a final report summarising the research project.
  • Contribute research to one of Tate’s online publication platforms
  • Convene a seminar or lecture at Tate or at a partner organisation.

Continue reading

Shenzhen’s new culture centre

Source: SCMP (12/1/17)
Shenzhen’s new V&A-approved culture centre to showcase city’s artistic side
The Chinese megacity has grown rapidly over the last 35 years and with its new Sea World Culture and Arts Centre opening in December it’s looking to make as big an impact in culture as it has in industry
By Cathy Adams

Artist’s rendering of the full Design Society complex in Shenzhen, created by architect Fumihiko Maki.

Artist’s rendering of the full Design Society complex in Shenzhen, created by architect Fumihiko Maki

Shenzhen is a border town, tech hub, factory floor and somewhere Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has labelled a “generic city”: malleable enough to change its form with the times.

This Pearl River Delta megalopolis is China’s richest city, having grown from 30,000 inhabitants in 1980 – when it was designated the first special economic zone – to almost 12 million today. With Shenzhen’s mushrooming size (the fourth-highest megatall in the world, the Ping An Finance Centre, glares across the river towards Hong Kong) comes ballooning ambition, because Koolhaas’s generic city is now eyeing developments in art and design. Continue reading

HK artists and activists turn to zines (1)

This is a fascinating story.

I can’t help share an article just published by a student of mine. It’s entitled “Feminist Ephemera in a Digital World: Theorizing Zines as Networked Feminist Practice.” Abstract is here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cccr.12172/abstract

The author of this article also has a fabulous lesson plan about how to teach activism and social movements through the making of zines: http://www.clark-parsons.com/blog/media-activism-and-social-movements-teaching-with-zines

Guobin Yang <guobin.yang@asc.upenn.edu>

HK artists and activists turn to zines

Source: SCMP (11/25/17)
Why Hong Kong artists and activists are turning to zines in the digital age
The independently published ‘pocket-sized works of art’ are undergoing something of a resurgence worldwide. In Hong Kong, with its rich printing history, youngsters have discovered a whole other avenue of expression
BY MANAMI OKAZAKI

A zine by Yiyu Lam depicting the Occupy Central protests as he saw them unfold on television in Britain. Picture: Manami Okazaki

A zine by Yiyu Lam depicting the Occupy Central protests as he saw them unfold on television in Britain. Picture: Manami Okazaki

To the untrained eye, “zines” don’t look like much: pamphlets stapled crudely together, featuring disparate topics and a range of art forms, such as cartoons, illustrations and photography. To collectors, they are pocket-sized works of art, and tools of self-expression.

Zines have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Museums, universities and institutions across the United States are championing them, and if any proof of their current popularity were needed, the fact that American rapper Kanye West has produced one – 64 pages of vintage-style photography – should suffice.

Hong Kong, too, with its restive youth, is proving fertile ground. Continue reading

Afternoon with Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan

The Exilic Gaze and the Activist Lens:
An Afternoon with Documentary Filmmakers Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan

Saturday, December 2, 2017, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Michelson Theater, Department of Cinema Studies, NYU
721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan are two important members of the Chinese independent documentary community that emerged in Beijing in the 1990s. The community has since flourished and transformed into a complex cluster of groups with diverse social, political, and aesthetic aspirations, as well as wider regional dispersal. Currently based in Hong Kong, veteran independent director Huang Wenhai (Dream Walking 2005, We 2008) and human rights activist, feminist scholar, blogger and filmmaker Zeng Jinyan(Prisoners in Freedom City, 2007), joined hands in making We the Workers (2017). The epic-scale film documents migrant workers of two generations in Southern China who have tried to organize themselves to protest against the unfair compensation and sub-human workingconditions that have been part of the price tag of the economic miracle in China.

2:00 pm -5:00 pm We the Workers 凶年之畔, directed by Huang Wenhai & produced by Zeng Jinyan, 2007, 173 min.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Panel discussion with Huang Wenhai, Zeng Jinyan, Prof. Angela Zito (Center for Religion and Media, NYU) & Prof. Feng-Mei Heberer (Cinema Studies, NYU), moderated by Prof. Zhen Zhang (Cinema Studies, NYU).

Co-sponsored by the Center for Religion and Media, NYU.

Free and open to the public.

Dazibao exhibition

Source: Sup China (11/14/17)
When Words Kill: ‘Big-Character Posters’ Are Testament To Tenacity And Suffering In One Of China’s Darkest Periods
By ELEANOR GOODMAN

In China in Ten Words, translated into English by Allan H. Barr, author Yu Hua gives a trenchant description of big-character posters (大字报 dàzìbào) as he experienced them as a child:

At the outset of the Cultural Revolution “big-character posters” started to appear. Political screeds rendered in clumsily handwritten characters — and now and again some elegantly written ones, too — these were the first acts of the disenfranchised masses in challenging the power of officialdom. Written on broadsheets are big as decent-sized windows and posted on the walls that ran alongside city streets, shorter versions took the form of two sheets of paper mounted one on top of another, while longer ones involved five or six sheets set out in a horizontal row. In the years to follow, these big-character posters would become the largest exhibition of calligraphy China has ever seen: all across the country, in cities and towns, big streets and small, walls were decorated with them. People would gather in the streets and read the posters with undisguised relish, for although they all employed much the same revolutionary rhetoric, they began to criticize officials and their high and mighty ways. Continue reading

Exhibition of Dazibao and Woodcuts

Exhibition of Dazibao and Woodcuts from 1960s China at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
哈佛费正清中国研究中心的大字报特展

Join the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies for a panel discussion and reception to celebrate the launch of our new exhibition of Cultural Revolution-era artworks.

The exhibition will be on display in the CGIS South Building Asia Centers Lounge, 1730 Cambridge Street from November 9 to November 30, 2017.

This is the first time that these dazibao (or “big-character posters”) have been publicly displayed since the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Panelists:
Denise Ho, Assistant Professor of History, Yale University
Jie Li, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Roderick MacFarquhar, Leroy B. Williams Research Professor of History and Political Science, Emeritus, Harvard University
Julia Murray, Professor of Art History, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Xiaofei Tian, Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University

Moderated by Michael Szonyi, Director, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University

A reception will follow the panel discussion.  Continue reading

Manhua modernity

Source: ACAS: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (2/10/17)
The Pictorial Turn and China’s Manhua Modernity, 1925-1960
Download PDF
By John A. Crespi

Defining manhua­—usually translated as “caricature” or “cartoon”—is like trying to put spilled ink back into the bottle. [1] The word should be warning enough. Where the second character for the second syllable, hua, refers to pictorial art in general, the first character, man, connotes several situations: a state of overflow and inundation, an attitude of freedom and casualness, and, most broadly, a general feeling of being all over the place. The challenge of this book—The Pictorial Turn and China’s Manhua Modernity, 1925-1960—is to embrace the chaos, while also making sense of it. Continue reading

Guggenheim pulls works from exhibition (1)

First off, since the exhibition won’t open until Oct 9, the protesters so far are mostly reacting to the reports from critics who previewed it, such as the NYTimes article “Where the Wild Things are: China’s Art Dreamers at the Guggenheim,” which drew overwhelmingly ferocious comments after it was published a few days ago. I have to say that those previews I have read are extremely poorly written, with minimum efforts to contextualize those animal works, and they should be partially responsible for the outrage.

Also, the works Guggenheim shows are far from the most radical or “cruel” performance art that involved the use of animals (for a comprehensive survey of those works, see Meiling Cheng, Beijing Xingwei: Contemporary Chinese Time-based Art, 2013), and all the three removed works have been exhibited in many other art institutions internationally, often causing controversy but never ending up being censored. In comparison, the intolerance New Yorkers have demonstrated is rather embarrassing. Continue reading

Guggenheim pulls works from exhibition

Source: The Guardian (9/26/17)
Guggenheim Museum pulls three artworks featuring animals after threats of violence
Works in an exhibition of Chinese art that included reptiles eating insects and dogs on a treadmill are removed from show in New York following outcry
By Benjamin Haas

The Guggenheim has been embroiled in controversy since the Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World show was publicised.

The Guggenheim has been embroiled in controversy since the Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World show was publicised. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

New York’s Guggenheim Museum will remove three art pieces from an upcoming show featuring Chinese conceptual artists, amid accusations of animal cruelty and repeated threats of violence.

The museum will not exhibit three pieces during Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World – two videos featuring live animals and a sculpture that includes live insects and lizards – over “concern for the safety of its staff, visitors and participating artists”. Continue reading

Sha Fei exhibition

Source: China Daily (9/19/17)
Exhibition focuses on work of noted army photographer
By Lin Qi

Exhibition focuses on work of noted army photographer

Sha Fei, Chinese photographer [Photo provided to China Daily]

Two gunshots were heard at the Bethune International Peace Hospital in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, in December 1949. A Japanese doctor was shot dead by Sha Fei (1912-50), a patient of tuberculosis and a noted photographer of the People’s Liberation Army.

Two months later, Sha was sentenced to death by a military court in China.

A retrial in 1986 acquitted Sha posthumously saying he was in mental distress as he was reminded of the cruelty of war scenes when seeing the Japanese doctor, and he thought the doctor had attempted to poison him.

Sha took up photography in the 1930s and became the first full-time photographer of the Eighth Route Army led by the Communist Party of China around 1937.

But, Sha’s career as a photographer was short lived, and his work was not studied or presented until in recent times.

A Tower of Light, an exhibition now on at the museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy, sheds light on Sha’s contribution to 20th-century Chinese photography. On show are some 100 images from Sha’s oeuvre, which are printed from the negative plates owned by his family. Continue reading