symposia

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About the Organizers, Moderators and Speakers

Hou Hanru

Hou Hanru was the Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and Chair of the Exhibitions and Museum Studies program at SFAI. He was also the moderator for the 2004 symposium in Hangzhou, China Envisioning the Future of Contemporary Art From Different Glocal Positions organized in collaboration with the exhibition Zooming into Focus: Photography and Video from the Haudenschild Collection. A prolific writer and curator, Hou received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Central Institute of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he was trained in art history, with additional work in painting, performance, installation, and architectural research. He is a consultant for several cultural institutions internationally including the Global Advisory Committee of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Contemporary Art Museum in Kumamoto, Japan. Described as a significant international voice on cultural difference, Hou is the French correspondent for Flash Art International and a regular contributor to several other journals on contemporary art including Frieze, Art Monthly, Third Text, Art and Asia Pacific, Domus, Atlantica, Texte Zur Kunst, and Tema Celeste. Most recently, Hou was appointed Curator of the 10th International Istanbul Biennial, which will take place from September to November 2007. Other recent curatorial projects include the second Guangzhou Triennale where he co-curated Beyond: An Extraordinary Space of Experimentation for Modernization; Go Inside, the 3rd Tirana Biennale (Tirana, Albania, 2005); Out of Sight, organized by the De Appel Foundation (Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2005); Nuit Blanche 2004 (Paris, 2004); and A L’Ouest Du Sud De L’Est / A L’Est Du Sud De L’Ouest (Villa Arson, Nice, 2004). Hou is one of the first curators and thinkers to examine postmodern issues of nomadic identity, hybridity, globalized mobility, what he calls “in-betweeness,” and artists living in the diaspora.

Laura Zhou

Laura Zhou is currently the gallery director of White Cube Hong Kong. Previously she was the co-director and co-founder of ShanghART in Shanghai, China. ShanghART contributes as a vital resource to the development of contemporary Chinese art. Being recognized for its importance, it became the first gallery from China participating in major international art fairs like Art Basel and Fiac, Paris. Founded by Lorenz Helbling, ShanghART represents over 40 of China most talented artists working with different media ranging from painting and sculpture to video art and performance.Today ShanghART works out of three spaces in Shanghai (Moganshan Rd and Huaihai Rd) and one space in Beijing (Cao Changdi).

Pi Li

Pi Li, born in 1974, has constantly changed his career direction in recent years. He was once the Art Director for the Chinese Contemporary Art Award sponsored by Uli Sigg. He also showed up in the Cannes International Film Festival as the producer of the Chinese movie Shanghai Dream. After over one year of operation, the U Studio (now named Boers-Li Gallery), founded in 2005 with curator Waling Boers, has also changed its direction. Now Pi Li decides to develop whole-heartedly the studio into a commercial gallery, and he has opened up a 100-square-meter affiliated exhibition area beside the main hall to promote the experimental solo exhibitions. The once mixed-orientated U Studio finally begins to transform into a professional gallery. The gallery represents a selective group of internationally operating artists. The gallery program is not media-specific, and includes installation, sculpture, painting, works on paper, audio work, photography, video, film, performance, and digital art. Each year, approximately six major solo exhibitions are organized, along with an irregular number of smaller solo and group exhibitions. Boers-Li emphasizes its support for the production of new and experimental work, utilizing its unique position both at home and abroad to open new pathways for artistic development. The program focuses on new developments in international art, as well as on the changing contemporary positions of established or older-generation artists. In addition, Boers-Li participates in a selection of both Chinese and international art fairs. The program also includes the publication of catalogs, both to accompany major solo exhibitions and to offer retrospectives on our artists. Click here to visit Boers-Li Gallery’s website.

Zhang Peili

Zhang Peili (b. 1957, China) lives and works in Hangzhou. In 1984 he obtained his BA in oil painting from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Today he remains one of China’s foremost video artist and his been shown in galleries throughout the world. He has shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Venice Biennale. For a Chinese-born artist who still lives in his hometown, Zhang Peili has been represented in a remarkable number of international exhibitions. In just over two years, his work has been seen in several high-profile Asian-themed group shows–including “Cities on the Move” and “Inside Out: New Chinese Art”–as well as at the Basel art fair and the most recent Sydney and Venice biennials. He also bears the distinction of being the first Chinese artist to have an installation piece collected by MOMA.

Hans Ulrich Olbrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist was born in Zürich in 1968. He is a curator who began his work in his kitchen, was named art’s second most powerful figure in 2010, by Art Review, after being its most powerful the previous year. Obrist joined the Serpentine Gallery in 2006, as Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes, and the Director of International Projects. Prior to this engagement, he served as the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, since 2000. Before arriving in Paris, Obrist was curator of Museums in Progress, Vienna, from 1993 until 2000. In all, since 1991 Obrist has curated over 150 exhibitions internationally. Along with his curatorial work, Obrist is “the artworld’s Studs Terkel – its default oral historian – with his interviews taking forms ranging from a video exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale to Volume Two of his mammoth Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews book series”, and a man who has “turned curation into an art”.

Martina Köppel-Yang

Martina Köppel-Yang is an independent art historian and curator with a PhD in East Asian Art History and Sinology from the University of Heidelberg. She studied in Heidelberg, Beijing and Paris and has been involved in contemporary Chinese art since studying at the Central Fine Arts Academy in Beijing in the mid-1980s. She has written extensively on the subject and is member of the editorial boards for Yishu Journal for Contemporary Chinese Art, and Red Flag Collection, a compilation of contemporary Chinese artists’ projects published in Hong Kong. Together with her husband, Yang Jiechang, she created Mühlgasse 40, Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art, which opened in Heidelberg during 2003. Her publications include Semiotic Warfare: The Chinese Avant-garde 1979-1989(Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 2003), Living in Time – 29 zeitgenössische Künstler aus China, exhibition catalogue (Berlin: 2001) and Gebrochene Bilder, Junge Kunst aus China in V. Drachenbrücke ed. (Bad Honnef: Horlemann 1991).  She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions including Leased Legacy. Hong Kong 1997 (Frankfurt 1997), Odyssey(s) 2004 (Shanghai 2004), Black Extreme Vigorous Figurative at Shenzhen Fine Arts Institute (Shenzhen 2005),Infiltration: Idylls and Visions at the Guangdong Museum of Art (Guanzhou, 2005), Surplus Value and Accumulation – Canton Express, the Next Stop at Tang Contemporary Art Centre (Beijing 2006) and, most recently, Ink – Life – Taste at the 5th Shenzhen International Ink Painting Biennial (Shenzhen 2006). Her next research project, Performing Identity – Political Directives and Contemporary Chinese Art since the 1980s, focuses on the cultural policy of the People’s Republic of China.

Karen Smith

British-born writer and curator Karen Smith first came to China from Hong Kong in 1992, with the express aim of investigating and documenting the new art emerging there.  Based in Beijing ever since, she has been an instrumental actor in the contemporary Chinese scene through extensive critical writings, interviews and exhibitions to promote and articulate art and artists at the forefront of creative developments here — and when few others were on the ground to witness them. Smith is the author of a number of books including Nine Lives; The Birth of Avant Garde Art in New China (Timezone 8, 2006), and Ai Weiwei (Phaidon, 2009), and is currently working on a new book about Chinese art during the 1990s; among the many exhibitions she has curated are “Revolutionary Capitals” (ICA, London, 1999), “The Real Thing” (Tate Liverpool, UK, 2007) and, most recently, “Life Most Intense” (Ma Ke solo exhibition, Platform China, 2012). It has recently been announced that she is to join the Xi’an OCT Art Museum as the managing director.

Huang Du

Born in 1965 in Lintong, Shanxi Province of China, Huang Du graduated from Department of Art History at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1988. As an independent curator and critic, he now lives and works in Beijing. He has served as editor and associate professor of editorship for magazine of Fine Arts from 1988 to 2001. Also he recommended personnel of “Art Award” for Lenbach-House Art Gallery, Munich in 1997. Important exhibitions curated or co-curated by him in recent years include “Post-Material” (2000, Beijing), “Manufacturing in China” (2002, New York), “The 2nd Seoul International New Media Art Biennale” (2002, Seoul), “The 50th Venice Biennale—Chinese Pavilion” (2003, Venice), “The 7th International Art Biennale in Parma, Italy” (2004, Parma) and “The 26th Sao Paulo Biennale—Chinese Pavilion” (2004, Sao Paulo). In 2010, Huang continued to serve as the curator of “Today Documentary Exhibition” and have “The Second Today Documentary Exhibition” launched. Meanwhile, he served as the judge of Credit Suisse 2010 Arts Award and participated in the curatorial work of “Recommended Young Artist Exhibition of Shanghai Art Fair”.

Tina Yapelli

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

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

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.

Barbara London

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

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

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.