In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today, with tens of thousands of artists struggling on the fringes while a small minority enjoy what can seem to be fairly stable and even politically protected positions within the arts establishment... provided that they keep a healthy sense of their own career trajectory.

In this episode of Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn is delighted to welcome two Beijing-based artists and critics to our studio for a discussion of the arts scene in China. In particular, we are delighted to be joined by Matthew Niederhauser, the artist and photojournalist responsible for the wonderful exhibit Counterfeit Paradises, as well as Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullen Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and founding editor of the Leap bilingual magazine about contemporary art in China.

Enjoy Sinica? If you'd like to keep abreast of new shows as soon as they are released, be sure to subscribe to our free RSS feed. And please also feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file and write us at sinica@popupchinese.com with suggestions on shows and guests you'd like to see in conversation on our show.
 said on
December 18, 2013
Recommendations

Matthew:

Secret, super exclusive shows at XP

(No link. The shows are like, secret, dude.)

Philip:

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt

http://www.amazon.com/The-Swerve-World-Became-Modern/dp/0393343405

Structures of Everyday Life: the Architecture of Wang Shu by Cole Roskam for Artforum (free account required)

http://artforum.com/inprint/issue=201309&id=43532

Jeremy:

Check out the Phoenix International Media Center near the southwest corner of Chaoyang Park in Beijing (see profile and pics below at ArchDaily)

http://www.archdaily.com/165746/in-progress-phoenix-international-media-center-biad-ufo/

 said on
December 18, 2013
"Do you think that society in China is really all that connected to tradition at this point? - I think you're always better off arguing that it isn't at all than that it completely is."

Well, I think this gentleman is hanging out way to much in that exclusive circle of avant-garde artists and has lost touch to reality. Are you for real?

As a native Chinese, I migrated to Europe and did not visit China during the entire decade of 2000s. And when I finally came back, I was shocked how retro-traditional the society has become - much more than I have ever anticipated, and in many areas more than I am comfortable with.

So I couldn't disagree strongly enough with what's being casually accepted as an obvious fact here. I think the society in China is downright pathologically connected to tradition today - including the arts (from the prospective of the general population, not your 798 folks - unless of course you consider the general population to be completely unqualified to offer any prospective on the arts). Yes, often times the connection is merely superficial, because it was severed for a time and only hastily reestablished now. But the longing for tradition is true, and dare I say overwhelming, and so the connection to tradition will only get stronger with time (again, not that I'm rooting for it).

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