I first came across Chen Xinpeng in 2009 as the initiator of the golden tent structure which appeared around Beijing that year. The tent provided a temporary haven for the show Cou Huo (co-organised with Red Box Studios) which was in itself a commentary on a “make-do” aspect of Chinese society. For me the tent embodied Xinpeng taking advantage of his relation to art practice to use temporary approaches to presentation, working to get away from art-institutional practices while also providing new formats for broader activities, including business or event presentations.
Edward Sanderson: Where did you study originally?
Chen Xinpeng: I graduated from Luxun Academy of Art1 in 1994. Then I moved to the States where I stayed for 10 years, and moved back to China about 5 years ago.
While I was in New York, I was working my ass off and I didn’t have time to do the things I liked to do, so I came back. I think here I have better opportunities.
When I moved back here I saw everything was so temporary. All the building here – they build the buildings, then they tear down the buildings which they just built a few year ago. In the same way, I wanted to do something really temporary, so I made the Tent – you can blow it up and deflate it real quick and as it’s inflatable you can move it around easily – that’s pretty much the idea.
Actually I had made the plan for this a long time ago: I wanted to do a very temporary, easy to move, and very short-term exhibition. And not particularly for fine art, maybe as some other kind of venue. I really like the idea of people re-using my tent to do something else. They see the tent, and they are like “Oh that’s great! I can have a wedding in there!” – or they can do whatever they want, or they can make a tent themselves, or they can come and borrow it from me.
I’m also quite interested in different kinds of audience, not audiences specific to art districts. I’m quite interested in different locations, different people. How they take to different kind of shows. For me it’s a pretty fun approach.