An International Discourse on New Chinese Video and Photography
January 31, 2004 – San Diego Museum of Art
Moderated by Britta Erickson (Independent Scholar and Curator, Palo Alto)
-Betti-Sue Hertz (Director, YBCA) Performance, Masculinity and Photographic Approaches in East Asian Contemporary Art
-Barbara London (Curator, MOMA) China Now
-Christopher Phillips (Curator, ICP, New York) New Photography in China: Between Past and Culture
-Xu Bing (Artist) Space Between: The Art of Xu Bing
“The exhibition’s lead title, Zooming into Focus: Contemporary Chinese Photograph and Video from the Haudenschild Collection (2003 – 2005), refers to three major concepts quintessential to the exhibition and the symposium: Chinese artists’ use of photographic and video camera to examine the quick transition in their culture, the incredible pace of growth in China’s urban centers, and the current attention being paid to China by the rest of the industrialized world, especially the West. Most of the artists represented in Zooming into Focus live and work in China’s swiftly expanding southern megalopolises and frequently address those issues that directly affect young urbanites – the social impact of burgeoning consumerism, the meteoric rise of youth culture, the threatening loss of identity amidst the city swirl, the persistent sense of time speeding by. Exploring contemporary Chinese art in light of these concerns, the symposium will provoke a fresh perspective on China’s role in the international milieu.
Zooming into Focus investigated the effects of accelerated change in China through the work of the country’s most talented emerging artists. The swift transformation of Chinese culture is reflected in the work of each of these represented artists who comment on contemporary Chinese urban life with intelligence, wit, foreboding and nostalgia. The works of Cao Fei, Chen Shaoxiong, Feng Mengbo, Geng Jianyi, Hong Hao, Hu Jie Ming, Lui Wei, Lu Chunsheng, Kan Xuan, Shi Yong, Song Tao, Wang Youshen, Weng Fen, Xiang Liqing, Xu Zhen, Yang Fudong, Yang Yong, Yang Zhenzhong, Zhao Bandi, Zheng Gougu and Zhu Jia were included in this exhibition.
Marking many important milestones, Zooming into Focus was the first exhibition and symposium of its kind in San Diego, the West Coast, and Singapore and the first contemporary Chinese photography exhibition at the Centro Cultural Tijuana, Mexico. It was the first time the Shanghai Art Museum exhibited works on contemporary Chinese video and photography from a private collection and most importantly, it was the first retrospective exhibition of Chinese photography and video ever held at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.
Contemporary art in China reflects the country’s surging influence as an economic, political and cultural force in the global arena. Chinese artists, especially those working in photography and video, are gaining international recognition for their powerful artworks that comment on the consequences of a rapidly changing society. To encourage awareness and consideration of topics relevant to contemporary Chinese art, An International Discourse on New Chinese Video and Photography brought together world-renowned artists, curators and scholars for a series of presentations and an open discussion. This symposium provided a new lens through which to better understand China’s transformative development, as expressed especially through the dynamic work of a younger generation of experimental artists. In addition, the symposium enhanced the appreciation of many of the most noteworthy Chinese artist working today. A catalog of the collection, exhibitions and symposia was published.” -Tina Yapelli
About the Participants
Professor Tina Yapelli is the director of the University Art Gallery, a position she has held since 1985. In that role, she has originated more than forty-five exhibitions of contemporary art by regional, national and international artists. Some of the exhibitions have been coorganized in cooperation with other galleries and museums, at which they also were presented. She also has organized a variety of educational programs for the University and off-campus communities, including symposia, lecture series, gallery talks and visiting artists’ residencies. As a professor of art, she offers a course each semester in Gallery Exhibition Design. From 1992 to 1994, during a leave of absence from San Diego State University, Yapelli worked as curator of exhibitions at the Madison Art Center in Madison, Wisconsin. There she originated an additional ten exhibitions. She has appeared on television and radio programs to speak about visual art, and has been a guest speaker, curatorial consultant and exhibition juror at several California art institutions. An advocate for public art, Yapelli has served on numerous public art selection committees in Wisconsin and California. Her writing on contemporary art has appeared in journals in the United States, and in a book published by Telos Art Publishing in England.
Britta Erickson is an independent scholar and curator whose work focuses on contemporary Chinese art. She has taught at Stanford University and University of California, Berkley. Her recent projects include a major exhibition of Chinese art at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington and the creation of an award-winning Bibliography of Modern Chinese Art website. She is currently the Festival Director of the Denver Film Society.
Betti-Sue Hertz is the Director of Visual Art at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and served as the curator of contemporary art at San Diego Museum of Art from 2000-2008. Prior, she was the director of Longwood Arts Project, Bronx, New York 1992-1998. Her recent major exhibitions and catalogues at SDMA include Eleanor Antin (2008); Animated Painting (2007); Transmission: The Art of Matta and Gorson Matta-Clark (2006); Past in Reverse: Contemporary art of East Asia (2004); She was adjunct curator of Contemporary Links, a series in which contemporary artists respond to works in SDMA’s collection.
London is a curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She’s been there since 1974, when she founded the Museum’s ongoing Video Exhibition Program. She built an essential context for the visionary statements being made internationally in video and media art by multi-cultural voices, emerging talents, and more established artists such as Laurie Anderson, Gary Hill, Mako Idemitsu, Joan Jonas, Shigeko Kubota, Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and Zhang Peili. Her objective has been to link the electronic arts with the more traditional art mediums. To document, preserve, and support this vital art field, she the Video Study Center and assembled its unique collection of more than 1,000 independently produced videotapes and related historical and theoretical publications. She is also an Instructor at the School of Visual Arts, 1994-97. To further her professional development, London took two sabbaticals to investigate new trends in electronic technologies and the effects on the creation and distribution of the arts in Japan.
Christopher Phillips, curator at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, is the guest curator of the forthcoming exhibition Shanghai Kaleidoscope at Royal Ontario Museum (Canada). Mr. Phillips is actively engaged with many facets of contemporary Chinese culture. With Wu Hung, he co-curated Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, which was originally exhibited at the ICP and the Asia Society in New York. It was also presented to critical acclaim at the Haus der Kulturern der Welt (Berlin) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and is currently at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art until September 2006.
Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China in 1955. In 1977 he entered the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) where completed his bachelor’s degree in 1981 and stayed on as an instructor, earning his MFA in 1987. In 1990, on the invitation of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he moved to the United States. Xu currently serves as the Vice President of CAFA. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Joan Miro Foundation, Spain; National Gallery of Prague and the Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, amongst other major institutions. Additionally, Xu Bing has shown at the 45th and 51st Venice Biennales; the Biennale of Sydney and the Johannesburg Biennale amongst other international exhibitions. Over the years, Xu Bing’s work has appeared in high-school and college text-books around the world including Abram’s “Art Past – Art Present,” Gardner’s “Art Through the Ages” and Greg Clunas’s “Chinese Art” a volume in the “Oxford History of Art” series. In 2006, the Princeton University Press published “Persistence/Transformation: Text as Image in the Art of Xu Bing” a multidisciplinary study of Xu Bing’s landmark work “Book from the Sky.” In 2007, Professor Robert Harrist, Chair of Chinese Art at Columbia University, New York, began teaching a graduate seminar entitled “The Art of Xu Bing.” In 1999, Xu Bing was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his “capacity to contribute importantly to society, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy.” In 2003 Xu Bing was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize, and in 2004 he won the first Wales International Visual Art Prize, Artes Mundi. The Southern Graphics Council awarded Xu Bing their lifetime achievement award in recognition of the fact that his, “use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways.” “Art in America” listed Xu Bing, along with 15 others, in their annual Year in Review.