A piece I wrote for Art World Magazine has appeared in their March edition, dwelling on my experiences as a foreigner in the Chinese art world. The English version of this piece is also appearing over at Tuanjie Space, an online community which aims to “develop critical discourse and practices with artists, curators and writers.”
Over at the HomeShop blog, I’ve been invited to write about the subject of gentrification. The first part of three has just been published, and there I’m thinking about the nature of gentrification and its causes and effects on local communities. I’m focusing on two examples: HomeShop’s own situation, and my home town of New Malden (in the South-West of London) which has seen the development of Europe’s largest South Korean community.
UPDATE: All three part have now been published on the HomeShop blog:
- Gentrification Disco, vol. 1.1: New Malden
- Gentrification Disco, vol. 1.2: Beijing
- Gentrification Disco, vol. 1.3: Everyday Life
Special thanks to Michael Eddy for the invitation to take part in the discussion!
16:9 Zhang Xiaogang (Curated by Leng Lin)
Today Art Museum, Pingod Community, No.32 Baiziwan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
December 9 – 26, 2010
With an artist as well known as Zhang Xiaogang, it’s perhaps difficult to move audience perceptions on from the clichés of “Chinese art” which his work has, for better or worse, become an image for. This problem is equally true for the artist themselves in their quest to develop their work. Zhang’s solo show at the Today Art Museum in Beijing demonstrates a development of his signature stylistic forms into a space which may energise those forms.
Review of The Third Party Part 1: How to Be Alone (or nowhere else am I safe from the question: why here?)
Platform China, 319-1 East End Art Zone A, Caochangdi Village, 100015 Beijing, China
November 11, 2010 – November 30, 2010
Developing quite a reputation as a space which encourages experimentation in their shows, Platform China currently have two shows which in their own ways leave some breathing space in the works and the formats of presentation – a rare and noteworthy situation within the oftentimes banal Beijing gallery environment.
In Platform’s Caochangdi space right now their upstairs gallery is devoted to a solo show by Chinese artist Jin Shan, presenting his mercurial series of mini-videos “One Man’s Island” as a scattered installation of monitors and projections, marking out a complex space with these recordings of the artists minor activities. But the focus of this review is actually downstairs, in a smaller room to one side of the entrance, where a rather heartening group show has been installed, which literally and theoretically opens up a space for a physical negotiation with the works on display and for discussion around them.
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.
Edward Sanderson: Can you give me your background? You were born in Japan? How did you end up in China?
Emi Uemura: I was born in Japan and grew up there, going to College in Sapporo to study English Literature for two years and then transferring to the University in Halifax, Canada,
I went to Halifax to study spoken English first of all, and while at the University I took Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, which still influences my thinking. Around that time, I started to meet students from NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) and began engaging with art, social activities and changing eating habits, After graduating from the University, I went back to Japan, worked for a year, then went to Frankfurt, Germany.
ES: What was Germany for?
EU: At this time, a couple of my friends attended Städelschule, a school in Frankfurt, so I was simply curious to experience living in Germany with a group of friends. I was not an official student at the school, but I sneaked around and attended their lectures, film screenings and especially their cooking classes. And did some small projects while I was there.
ES: When would that have been?
EU: 2005–2007, for two and half years. And I think that was the time I was really influenced by the relations between space and food. Even though it was a small school they had a chef and a huge cafeteria where the students and teachers sat together and eat. I found that quality interesting, that in front of food people are very open and have discussions. I think from that point on I wanted to be working with food.
Then I went back to Japan again for two years and I consciously worked with food. The artist Fuyuka Shindo and I had a collaboration unit called DUET♪. We started catering and organizing food events and projects. At this time, I was working with the Sapporo Artist in Residence programme, and I learned the importance of long-term processes for producing work and engaging with people. I’ve now been in Beijing since the end of last year, because a friend of mine is living here and again, I’m looking forward to experiencing a different culture.
ES: Maybe you can talk about some of the things that you’ve done, like the Bento boxes, the Chain Letter Dinner at “also space”, and the seed bombing. I’d also like to ask about your work with Elaine Ho’s HomeShop. There’s an informal group of people around that, and you work together on certain things. Perhaps saying you work together is too much of a structure – it’s an informal, friendship thing, so the seed bombing, for instance, is a kind of joint effort.
An interview with Elaine W. Ho and Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga at HomeShop.
Edward Sanderson: Elaine, you’ve been here three years, how did HomeShop start? Have you and Fotini been working together the whole time?
Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga: I’ve been to China a few times now, and we have collaborated on several projects, but it’s only at this moment that I’m joining in, as we are trying to think about HomeShop’s future. Elaine will be able to tell you more about what she’s been doing so far.
Elaine W. Ho: I think HomeShop really came out of my experience of living in China and my fascination with the juxtapositions between public space and private space here, which I think a lot of people notice or are intrigued by when they come here. A lot of the work that I do involves the public space and looking at alternative settings with which one is interfaced with an idea or a “work”, and because of that particular interest in negotiating a public space and a private space—not only on a spatial level but also on a social, economic level—this idea came to me: let’s play with the commercial space and see what we can do with that. So this was how it originally came about, and all the projects we’ve done here are based around this environment and the people here and are determined to a great extent by the architecture and the way that this space in particular relates to the community.