“Edward Sanderson speaks with Zhang Wei and Hu Fang about discovering ways of working within a private gallery that fosters an experience of art that is more than mere consumerism.”
An expanded appreciation of the gallery environment and its players, with a particular emphasis on the nature and expression of the physical and perceptual spaces that make up that environment, plays a significant role in the thinking and activities of Vitamin, a Guangzhou- and Beijing-based art organization. In its activities, Vitamin recognizes and utilizes these spaces through interaction with implied psychological and spiritual attributes that create an invisible energy, and that act as productive elements in the relationships among artist, artwork, and audience.
Zhang Wei and artistic director Hu Fang established Vitamin and opened Vitamin Creative Space, in 2002, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Over the ten years of its existence, Vitamin has become relatively well established in the Chinese art scene as well as internationally by its presence at art fairs and through its projects and publications carried out with practitioners from both inside and outside its home territory. Its broad range of activities, exhibitions, events, and publications, and the often idiosyncratic nature of many of them, allow Vitamin to retain a feeling of informality, experimentation, and playfulness within a formalized gallery system.
Vitamin Creative Space, 2503-B- Building 2, Northern District, Pingod Community, No.32 Baiziwan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100022, China
November 20, 2010 — ongoing
The end of November marked the inception of Vitamin Creative Space’s “The Pavilion” – their third space in China, and second in Beijing – and allowed for a revisiting of their presentation methods in their various spaces. So, what is this “Pavilion” and what purpose does it serve? And how does it relate to their previous space, “the shop”? Coming to grips with Vitamin’s selection of spaces reveals a taste for poetic license in their consistently ambiguous commercial spaces.
Some are artists setting up programs for themselves or their peers, others are fully-fledged companies offering a wide range of art services. All see themselves as “alternatives,” but what do they mean by that and how do they sit in relation to the Beijing art-world?
These brief notes on some “alternatives” in Beijing (and beyond) were inspired by a visit to one of the groups mentioned, TCA, which led me to question just what it meant to be “alternative,” what is “alternative” a reaction against and how do these organisations go about positioning themselves?