Breaking Forecast: 8 Key Figures of China’s New Generation Artists is a groundbreaking exhibition presenting new and recent works by the most compelling emerging and mid-career artists working throughout China today: Cao Fei, Chu Yun, Liu Wei, MadeIn, Qiu Zhijie, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Yang Fudong and Zheng Guogu. The first of its kind, the exhibition affirms UCCA’s dedication to supporting the development of Chinese art. Combining genres of painting, performance, photography, video and installation, this exhibition will define the future of Chinese contemporary art for years to come. [emphasis mine]

And “emerging” is always a tricky word to define, too.

It’s not that I don’t recognise that this is an interesting group of artists (and, in my opinion, it’s always good to see more of Chu Yun), and we’ve all been guilty of the odd bit of hyperbole in our time, but that last sentence…

The self-aggrandisement that’s coming through in this piece, and the way UCCA are presenting the artists in this text, actually seems to be using them as a side-line to UCCA’s own historical positioning statements – and of course that’s exactly the (overt or covert) purpose of exhibitions (and—by association—the artists involved in those exhibitions). My issue is not with the uses to which exhibitions (or artists) can be put, but with this wording that seems to revel in this programme. At the end of the day, it’s quite exciting to find a text which is so blatant about this.

To be fair to UCCA, my issues with them deserve a more considered post, but this particular press release was too galling to let slip by.

Chinese artists and Dior: whose exploitation?

From the review of ‘Christian Dior & Chinese Artists (Ullens Centre)’ by Maya Kóvskaya in Art Review (noted by RedBox Review).

Art and the artist’s relation to society has always fascinated me, particularly the role of the commodity in the art system. Because of the mutability of the nature of the artworks, commodification is part and parcel of it, and (but?) always seems to end up being problematic for it or the artist.

The fashion powerhouse wins here by appropriating art, linking the house of Dior brand to the (false but potent) notion that art is above commodification. The uncritical revelry of some artists in their own newly minted celebrity mirrors the embrace of art as fetish commodity and store-bought cultural capital for the nouveau riche, and echoes the dream of material accumulation, while eliding grotesque social inequality in a country where one superrich individual is worth more money than Gansu province, population twenty-six million. When art becomes parasitical on fashion and cedes its capacity to offer critical optics for viewing the human condition, we can legitimately moan about co-optation; and when artists appropriate capital to realise works that extend their explorations and serve their aesthetic visions, we can celebrate. Christian Dior & Chinese Artists gives us cause for a bit of both.