Introducing Contemporary China

Last Monday morning, I went to interview contemporary Chinese artist Xu Zhen, founder of MadeIn Company at his Taopu studio here in Shanghai. It was a pretty humid day that when combined with super tired eyes from weekend adventures, made for a slow non-academic mind so it didn’t quite feel like interviewing…that was until the taxi journey, which took longer than expected, thus giving me plenty of time to take a quick nap, re-fuel and expand on questions and strands of thought. Somehow, and quite impressively, I used my basic Mandarin Chinese skills to re-direct the driver and get me out of a directional mess. A proud moment for Rachel…words are slowly get clearer.

The interview was pre-recorded for the event ‘Introducing Contemporary China’ which took place at Eastside Projects, a contemporary artist-run exhibition space in Birmingham, UK, last Wednesday evening and is shown below in full. I have been working with Eastside Projects and their members group ‘Extra Special People’ since they awarded me an ‘International Research Bursary’ earlier last year. I am hoping to develop a curatorial project with them in relation to my PhD research in 2013.

In the interview shown above, Xu outlines the work of MadeIn Company whilst talking more generally about his perspectives on the development of contemporary Chinese art in China and its place internationally. He also talks of the billboards series created for the project ’48SHEET’ by EC-Arts, currently on show in the urban landscape of Birmingham, UK, which is also an off-site project as part of ‘The Fourth Guangzhou Triennial’ 2012 festival, the development of which is shown through the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) blog.

‘Artists responded to and challenged the repetitive rhythm of a traditional advertising campaign by creating a network of unique and distinctive responses that will raise levels of consciousness and arouse cultural curiosity.’ – 48SHEET

Image courtesy of MadeIn Company and EC-Arts
Image courtesy of MadeIn Company and EC-Arts
Image courtesy of MadeIn Company and EC-Arts

In between Xu having to close a door because of polystyrene cutting noise (the worst noise to hear in my world making my skin crawl and teeth curl), and me slipping off my chair whilst messing profusely with my hair (a normal thing for Rachel), it was quite an interesting short conversation…although the sound quality isn’t great as I forgot to take a microphone with me. According to ESP’s Co-ordinator Liz Rowe (shown below, sitting in the middle top photograph in a navy sweater), the event went really well, which was great to hear! I just wish I could have been there to join in the continued conversations and dialogues. A transcript of the interview will also be available in due course that I will post online for you to download. In the meantime, it would be great to hear your thoughts…how do you view contemporary China and contemporary Chinese art today?

Image courtesy of Eastside Projects and Extra Special People
Image courtesy of Eastside Projects and Extra Special People
Image courtesy of Eastside Projects and Extra Special People

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