Weekend Reads #5

Back to compiling my Weekend Reads again (read parts one to four here)…a round-up of articles and words that I’ve come across in relation to societal, governmental, commercial/economic and cultural aspects of China and Chinese contemporary visual culture. This time, there’s a new book and also a forthcoming conference thrown in…


ChiSRA: The Chinese Studies Research Alliance – The ‘China Dream’: conference programme and registration – 24-25 September 2014
Planning for ChiSRA’s inaugural conference (24th/25th September) continues apace. A provisional programme is now available to download from our website. The presentations will cover a range of themes and subject areas, including literature and film, visual arts, design and marketing. We are delighted to announce that Professor Zhong Xin from Renmin University will be delivering a keynote speech at the conference. Details of additional keynote speakers will follow shortly.

New Books

MOTIVE 23 Art Individuals, Interviews by Shaun Huang (2014)
Last August, the author interviewed Ai Weiwei for his book Motive: Interviewing 23 Art Individuals, to be published in both English and Chinese by China International Press on August 5th. artnet News is pleased to be publishing this advance preview, the first excerpt from this new collection.


Docs Port Incheon 2014 – Deadline 29 August 2014
Docs Port Incheon in Korea is a new funding platform for Asian documentary productions. Open call for project submissions from Asian documentary makers pursuing international co-productions for the A-Pitch (Asian Project Pitching) category.


Lorem Ipsum: of good and evil, Google and China – The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 2014
Imagine discovering a secret language spoken only online by a knowledgeable and learned few. Over a period of weeks, as you begin to tease out the meaning of this curious tongue and ponder its purpose, the language appears to shift in subtle but fantastic ways, remaking itself daily before your eyes. And just when you are poised to share your findings with the rest of the world, the entire thing vanishes. This fairly describes my roller coaster experience of curiosity, wonder and disappointment over the past few weeks, as I’ve worked alongside security researchers in an effort to understand how “lorem ipsum” — common placeholder text on countless Web sites — could be transformed into so many apparently geopolitical and startlingly modern phrases when translated from Latin to English using Google Translate.

In China, Myths of Social Cohesion – The New York Times, 18 August 2014
They come for the camel rides, the chance to dress up like a conquering Qing dynasty soldier or to take selfies in front of one of the most historic Islamic shrines in Xinjiang, the sprawling region in China’s far northwest.

First world war’s forgotten Chinese Labour Corps to get recognition at last – The Guardian, 14 August 2014
The 95,000 Chinese farm labourers who, almost a century ago, volunteered to leave their remote villages and work for Britain in the first world war, have been called “the forgotten of the forgotten”.

Meet China’s Most Famous Single Dad – Foreign Policy, 18 August 2014
With divorce rates spiraling, the biography of ancient sage Confucius resonates once again.

Bizarre $500 million ‘Chinese-style Disneyland’ Set to Open in Australia – The China Gap, 15 August 2014 
A Chinese company intends to build a new ‘Chinese Disneyland’ theme park in Australia, which they claim will draw tourists from around the world when it opens in 2016. New plans have been unveiled for the development of a $500 million Chinese-inspired theme park called Chappypie China Time in Warnervale, just over an hour’s drive north of Sydney. Despite it’s strange name, locals are tipping it will be a tourist attraction to rival Opera House and Harbour Bridge once it’s finished.

China in Sydney


China property slump gathers pace in July – Financial Times, 18 August 2014
China’s property slump worsened in July as prices fell for the third straight month and developers scaled back investments, prompting economists to predict further financial defaults and slowing economic growth in the second half of this year.

Few signs of a slowdown in China’s busy cities – Irish Times, 19 August 2014
Taking a good, stand-back reading of the Chinese economy is always a difficult task, especially if one’s spectacles do not happen to be of the rose-tinted variety. For nearly three and a half decades now, the pessimists about the outlook for the Chinese economy have been uniformly wrong.


Street life: Hong Kong in the 1950s as seen through a teenage photographer’s lens – SCMP, 10 August 2014
When Ho Fan took up street photography in the 1950s, Central was still a poor neighbourhood with shabby houses and dirty alleys. The streets, filled with vendors, coolies and rickshaw drivers, fascinated Ho, who arrived from Shanghai in 1949. Taking pictures in a studio was the norm then, but the teenager was more interested in random, candid shots of strangers.

Asian Art Week Fall 2014 – Christie’s, 18 August 2014
Christie’s Asian Art Week will present six exciting auctions over four days at our Rockefeller Plaza galleries. From one of the finest collections of South Asian modern and contemporary art to ever appear at auction to cloisonné enamels, sought-after Chinese ceramics and more, this series of sales will feature masterpieces from every epoch of Asian Art.

‘China Mania! The Global Passion for Porcelain, 800-1900’ on view at the Asian Civilisations Museum – Art Daily, 19 August 2014
Porcelain with exquisite and intricate designs reveals the connections between many cultures in the Asian Civilisations Museum’s latest exhibition. China Mania! The Global Passion for Porcelain, 800-1900 casts the spotlight on the highly sought-after treasures that had captured the imagination of many far beyond the shores of China, attesting also to the extensive cultural interactions from as early as the 9th century.

The 10 Most Influential People in Chinese Contemporary Art – The Culture Trip
Since the 1980s, Chinese contemporary art has made a huge impact on the international scene and continues to be one of the art world’s major areas of focus. With countless new museums, galleries and talents coming to the fore, China has a great number of influential art world players. We bring you a selection of 10 among the most influential people in Chinese contemporary art today.

A New Generation of Chinese Artists – Art in America, 4 August 2014
Curious about new Chinese art but can’t afford a ticket to Beijing? Try Florida. “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,” including 27 artists under 39, was organized by New York-based Barbara Pollack, author of The Wild, Wild East: An American Art Critic’s Adventures in China (2010). Currently at the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg (through Sept. 28), the exhibition will move this fall to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (Oct. 25, 2014-Jan. 18, 2015).

How China Became the World’s Second-Largest Art Market – Highbrow Magazine, 28 July 2014
Piles of deep red, rusted metal rods fill the expansive room of the Perez Art Museum. The bars lay side-by-side, mounted on top one another, producing a wave-like, rolling movement that permeates the space. They create a landscape reminiecent of countryside, rice-fields even.

Robert H. Ellsworth Is Dead at 85 After a Life Devoted to Chinese Art – The New York Times, 7 August 2014
Robert H. Ellsworth, a prominent dealer of modern Chinese painting, Ming dynasty furniture, archaic jade and other examples of Asian art who helped amplify many of the major Asian collections in the United States, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 85. He died as a result of a fall, said a friend, Margarett Loke.

The Art of China, BBC Four, review: ‘enlightening’ – The Telegraph, 30 July 2014
It’s good to see Andrew Graham-Dixon back doing what he does best. After those excruciating Unpacked travelogues, in which he and Giorgio Locatelli got sozzled and stuffed up and down Italy, he’s making proper art documentaries again. And in this field, twinning a boyish enthusiasm with decades of learning, he is pretty much peerless. The Art of China (BBC Four), his new series, aims to tell the history of Chinese art in three episodes – which, bearing in mind the vastness of the country and the fact that its artistic tradition dates back uninterrupted to Neolithic times, is no easy task. Indeed, anyone expecting a neatly packaged narrative of artistic progress – as Graham-Dixon provided, from van Eyck to Mondrian, in his Art of the Low Countries series – would have been disappointed by the first episode.

Why you shouldn’t take photos in galleries – The Telegraph, 13 August 2014
Oh how the heart sinks. The National Gallery, after years of principled opposition, has quietly announced it is now allowing its visitors to photograph and film the paintings on its walls. Thus it joins Tate, the Louvre, the Metropolitan and most museums around the world in allowing photographs but outlawing flash. Only a handful of institutions such as the Uffizi and the Prado still keep cameras out.

‘Whoever Talks About China Talks About Himself’, Remembering Sinologist Pierre Ryckmans – Foreign Policy, 12 August 2014
The distinguished author and sinologist Pierre Ryckmans — better known by his pseudonym Simon Leys — died on August 11 in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 78. Participants discuss his prose, his scholarship, and the abiding clarity of his insight into China.

China aspires to become a centre of art to rival New York – Asia House, 11 July 2014
Sylvain Levy was at Asia House to talk about his online collection of contemporary Chinese art, the dslcollection, and the role of the collector in today’s society. He began with an overview of the current art market in China, which now has a 33 per cent global share. He said the country recognises art as a useful ‘soft power’ tool and finances many exhibitions outside China, with the goal of China becoming a centre of art to rival London, Paris and New York.

The Three Layers: A New Era of Collectors In China – Forbes, 18 August 2014
A new generation of collectors is emerging from China. Just as the local art market evolved at a rapid pace in the last decade, we are currently witnessing a new approach to art collecting and philanthropy in the country. These collectors are changing the ways the traditional players in the art market operate, who, in turn, need to adapt quickly to capture these new forces. So, who are these new actors of the art world? Three distinct layers seem to be emerging in China.

“Wu wei er wei”—or an afternoon with Wang Keping – Randian, 8 August 2014
There has been much focus on the “Stars Group” of late, as well as similar art movements like “Wu Ming” (“No Name”). But one member of the defunct art movement living in Paris is not making many waves. In fact, he seems to be making no waves at all, much like a fish hidden deep in the recesses of the water, with only small bubbles now and then signaling his presence. Perhaps, though, his significance is this non-being—his particular brand of “wu wei”. Despite a recent retrospective at UCCA in Beijing, a group show at the Musée Cernuschi and a group show at Chancery Lane Gallery during Art Basel Hong Kong, Wang Keping likes to keep to himself in a garden/warehouse studio in Villejuif on the western outskirts of Paris.

Chinese artist’s ark of sick animals pulls into Shanghai – The Art Newspaper, 8 August 2014
Few topics in China are more germane than environmental degradation, and Cai Guo-Qiang has jumped directly into the toxic waters with his new solo show “The Ninth Wave”, opening today at Shanghai’s state-owned Power Station of Art. “I wanted to focus on environmental issues, which are more and more critical in China, and influence how people think,” Cai told The Art Newspaper at a preview of the show on Thursday. “Art is not about social criticism, I do not want to preach to the public of China.”

Changing minds through Xinjiang portraits – BBC News, 5 August 2014
“I’ve met hundreds of people in more than 20 cities in China,” Kurbanjan Samat explained. “My subjects’ stories keep me going.” Uighur photographer Kurbanjan works tirelessly to repaint the image of his home region, Xinjiang, in the minds of many Chinese people. To show that Xinjiang has more than fruit vendors and pickpockets, Kurbanjan started a photo project last December called I’m From Xinjiang. It now includes more than 100 portraits of people from Xinjiang, with their ethnicities and occupations.

GIFs Bring Old Chinese Art to Life in a Charming Way – Kotaku, 12 August 2014
That’s the Yongzheng Emperor. He ruled China in the 18th century. And now, several hundred years later, he’s being turned into animated GIFs. The interesting thing is that this isn’t some random internet person making these GIFs. Apparently, according to Pouch, a staffer from the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing created them. The GIFs could be a part of the museum’s push to get younger people interested in traditional Chinese art and culture.

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