CENTRE FOR CHINESE VISUAL ART 10TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE: CHINESE ART OUTSIDE THE ART SPACE

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The Centre for Chinese Visual Art is hosting its 10th annual conference this week, which is themed around ‘Chinese Art Outside the Art Space’. As the organisers explain: “Focusing on art made, displayed, performed or executed outside the conventional venues of art museums and galleries, this conference not only offers a unique perspective to understand Chinese art in the contemporary context, but also, more importantly, it aims to critically reflect upon the understandings between art and art exhibition, between artistic productions and audience perceptions, and between art and our daily life. The unique programme of this confernece will focus on the questions, problematics and investigations around the theme of ‘art outside the art space’ in China.”

Date: 12-13 October 2017

Venue: Lecture Theatre, School of Art, Birmingham City University, B33BX

The full conference programme is included below.

 

Call for applications: (due 10 September) The Judith Neilson Scholarship in Contemporary Art

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The Judith Neilson Scholarship in Contemporary Art

 

The Judith Neilson Scholarship in Contemporary Art has been established to support the study of contemporary Chinese art in its global contexts. The Scholarship provides support for full-time doctoral study to be undertaken through the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney.

 

We invite applications from highly motivated individuals interested in engaging deeply with issues related to contemporary Chinese art, global art cultures, and transcultural studies. Prospective students must possess demonstrable research skills, high proficiency in writing in English, and academic experience in one or more of the following fields: art history and theory, Chinese studies, visual culture, and/or curatorial studies. Proficiency in Chinese is strongly preferred. Applications that demonstrate potential for engagement with the White Rabbit Collection are encouraged.

 

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Stephen Whiteman stephen.whiteman@sydney.edu.au with questions and expressions of interest. Continue reading

Getting round the Great Firewall of China

I’ve just written a short piece for Apollo on the potential impact of a recent series of online restrictions for the country’s thriving new media scene. The piece can be found online here and I’ve included a copy of the text below.

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A recent series of directives has sought to curtail the already fragile spaces for free expression in China. In June, a new cybersecurity law decreed that companies report the virtual activities of their employees. A month later came the news that Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – a form of software that enables users to circumvent the restrictions of China’s ‘Great Firewall’ – will be outlawed by February 2018.

Currently only about one per cent of China’s estimated 731 million internet users employ a VPN, but many members of China’s creative community fear that these increased restrictions will have a profound impact on their work. Like their counterparts around the world, artists in China use social media to disseminate their work and connect with international audiences. China has a thriving net art and new media scene, supported by galleries and art centres, innovative online initiatives capitalising on the popularity of social media platforms, a major prize for net art, and a growing body of young artists graduating from the new media departments of China’s major art academies. These developments reflect China’s hyper-networked and mediatised art world and the increasingly mobile culture that has arisen alongside the country’s technological advances.

While many artists eschew overtly political themes, others have chosen to confront the complex and contradictory facets of China’s restricted web, producing provocative and challenging works which not only satirise the government’s cybersecurity initiatives, but also comment on the psychological effects of censorship. The artist Miao Ying, for example, refers to this as her ‘Stockholm syndrome’ approach to the internet in China. Other artists such as Xu Wenkai (Aaajiao) strive to make the mechanisms of the Great Firewall visible, exposing the fault lines between censorship and self-expression. One of the regime’s fiercest critics is obviously Ai Weiwei, who, earlier this year wrote a polemic about the perils of self-censorship, calling for others to reject the ‘China model’ of development, which has promoted economic ascendancy at the cost of political freedom.

Recent developments illustrate that we would do well to heed these criticisms. Cambridge University Press briefly decided to block access in China to over 300 articles from the China Quarterly, one of the world’s leading China Studies journals, at the behest of Chinese censors, before eventually reversing the decision. As China expands its global engagement, seeking to reinvent itself as a 21st-century superpower, the long arm of censorship doesn’t just affect artists and writers within the country itself, but also has serious ramifications beyond China’s borders.

Second conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA), Zurich 24-27th August

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On Thursday I’ll be travelling to Zurich to take part in the second EAAA conference, which is being held this year at the University of Zurich from the 24th- 27th August. A unique gathering of artists, art historians, archaeologists, researchers and students working across disciplines and time periods- from neolithic China to contemporary Korea, the conference promises to offer three days of stimulating discussions and heated debates on all things art related, and will feature keynote addresses by Yukio Lippit and Burglind Jungmann.

As the organisers note: “The main aim of the Association is to encourage and promote all academic and scholarly activities related to Asian art and archaeology in European countries. More specifically, the Association will seek to establish and maintain a platform for the fruitful exchange of ideas, create a forum for dialogue among scholars of Asian art history and archaeology, and provide a setting for the presentation and discussion of new and recent research. Its main activities will include: the organisation of regular biennial conferences, thematic conferences, workshops, symposia, study events, and lectures. The Association will also actively seek out different ways to support young scholars, promote publications and exhibitions, and disseminate information and resources – of all kinds and in all forms and media – related to Asian art and archaeology.” Continue reading

Lin Ke’s interactive ‘Art Book’: where printed matter meets augmented reality

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In 2016 Lin Ke 林科 released a book via Tria publishing that presents a chronological overview of his output from 2010-2016.  As an artist Lin is known for innovative works which explore the impact of digital technology and computer operating systems on contemporary art and visual culture. Integrating images culled from social media platforms with playful subversions of standard software packages and graphical user interfaces, his practice employs screen recording software and programming code to blur the boundaries between real and virtual spaces.

After graduating from the China Academy of Art’s New Media Department (now the School of Intermedia Art) in 2008, Lin began a series of video works which were created without the use of a video camera. Capturing the mundane real-time actions governing artistic creation in the computer age, many feature the artist interacting with his laptop. We view these videos via the computer’s own camera, controlled from a distance with the use of a touchpad as the artist records his own movements to music.

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The resulting mirrored images, with their spectral layering of open windows, screen savers and desktop detritus present us with unsettling self-portraits of the digital age. As we increasingly experience life mediated by digital devices, they reinforce not only the reality of spending eight hours a day staring blankly at our computer screens but also the incursion of these virtual environments beyond the computer frame, personifying the uncanny possibility of a machine that can return our gaze.  Continue reading

Call for papers: ‘Contemporary Chinese Artists in the Globalised Art World’ Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 5.1

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I serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, so I’m happy to announce that JCCA is currently soliciting submissions for an exciting new issue on ‘Contemporary Chinese Artists in the Globalised Art World’ slated to be published in 2018.

The end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution opened an entirely new chapter for modern Chinese history, and indeed, for Chinese art too. In 1993, as a section of the 45th Venice Biennale, Passaggio a Oriente (Passage to the Orient) was one of the first representations of Chinese contemporary art on the global art stage presenting fourteen Chinese artists. Externally, Chinese art started to attract the world’s attention by artists’ frequent participations in long standing art events in cities like Venice, Kassel, Lyon, Istanbul, Sharjah and Sydney, as well as important museum exhibitions and art fairs. Internally, contemporary art exhibition became international from the beginning of this millennium, precisely, marked by the third Shanghai Biennial (2000). The Chinese government’s awareness and anxiety about the internationalisation of cultural and creative industries through urban transformations, the institution of biennials and triennials invented and organised in various cities in China, and the rise of newly founded private art museums and galleries have all played a part in promoting Chinese artists and the development of contemporary art in the international context.

The term ‘Chinese’ in this journal is always cultural and signals a broad sense, to include artists not only from Mainland China, but also Hong Kong, Taiwan, as well as those global Chinese diasporas. The editors of this issue would like to invite article submissions from a variety of perspectives to produce a series of case studies of individual artists (or artist groups) and their work as representative examples of development in Chinese contemporary art within the last three decades. These individual case studies can be based on their artistic lives, conceptual strategies, speculative knowledge, political and social engagements, and methodological approaches to art production in response to the globalised art world today. As such, this issue is designed to stimulate original research, critical thinking and new understanding of Chinese contemporary art.
Timeline

Extended Deadline: *31 July 2017, abstracts due (300 words)*

30 September 2017, full manuscripts due (6-7,000 words)

Publication in Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Please send submissions and correspondence to: Principal Editor Jiang Jiehongccva@bcu.ac.uk, with the subject ‘JCCA 5.1’. Please visit Intellect’s website http://www.intellectbooks.com to follow its house referencing guidelines.

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art is an associate journal of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University.

Where Next? Gary Zhexi Zhang on “Imagining the dawn of the ‘Chinese century'”

In an article in May’s edition of Frieze, Gary Zhexi Zhang explores ‘Sinofuturism’ , narratives of ‘techno-orientalism’ and the impact of the ‘Chinese century’ on contemporary art

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Where Next?

Over dinner in Shanghai a few years ago, I was debating the question of futurity with a friend. Our heads clouded by baijiu (sorghum wine), I found myself glibly insisting that neoliberalism had wrung out what remained of the utopian imagination, echoing the grim capitalist realism articulated by Mark Fisher, Fredric Jameson and others. Cut to 2017: Fisher is sadly no longer with us and even Francis Fukuyama, the political economist whose ‘end of history’ thesis postulated the infinite horizon of neoliberal capitalism, recently acknowledged: ‘Twenty-five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward […] And I think they clearly can.’

If the era of liberal democracy is crumbling before our eyes, alternate futures seem all the more potent amidst the ugliness of the present. Of course, I hit a dead end that night in Shanghai. Why should the ‘end of history’ mean anything in China? I only had to glance over at the skyline to see that the future never left: it just went elsewhere.

Continue reading

Celebrating ‘The Chinternet’: Internet Art Practices in China

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This Wednesday I’m delivering a lecture on Internet Art practices in China, examining artists’ distinctly self-conscious celebration of what has often disparagingly been labelled ‘The Chinternet’.  The talk will interrogate the assumption that internet art emerging from China can only belatedly repeat works of Euro-American precedent, arguing that current practices present a dramatic reframing of online censorship, consumerism and the unique aspects of vernacular culture that have emerged within China’s online realm.

While the talk is advertised as being open to all members of Christ Church, interested parties from the public and the wider University community are welcome to attend.