As the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art undergoes a period of transformation and growth we have initiated EXCHANGES, a series of public programmes to make space for artists and communities.

EXCHANGES refers to the movement of people, places, ideas, materials, emotions, memories, resources, possibilities, and hopes. EXCHANGES will metabolise collective energies and reflect creative ideas, contributing to a forum of communal expression. They are fluid spaces for togetherness that also embrace differences.

EXCHANGES // The Art of Contemporary China – book launch with Jiang Jiehong

Join us on 25th August for the second iteration of EXCHANGES – an evening of art and conversation to launch The Art of Contemporary China by Professor Jiang Jiehong, published by Thames & Hudson.

Hear Jiang Jiehong discuss this concise but far-reaching survey of contemporary Chinese art that incorporates a critical examination of art and visual culture in contemporary China.

Redefining contemporary Chinese art in the last forty years and placing it in the context of unprecedented cultural, political and urban transformation, The Art of Contemporary China features original research through first-hand materials and in-depth interviews with more than 30 artists in the last 10 years.

Professor Jiang will appear in conversation with CFCCA Director Xiaowen Zhu, followed by the UK premiere of the artist Zhao Zhao’s Project Taklamakan (2015-6). After the screening there will be a book signing and refreshments available.

Tickets are free but limited, please register here (maximum two tickets per order).

About the author:
Professor Jiang Jiehong is Head of Research at School of Art, Director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, and also Principal Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect). Jiang curated the Guangzhou Triennial: the Unseen (2012), the Asia Triennial Manchester: Harmonious Society (2014), the First Thailand Biennale: Edge of the Wonderland (Krabi, 2018-19) and This Is Shanghai (a partner exhibition of the 10th Liverpool Biennial, 2018).

Jiang’s book publications include Burden or Legacy: from the Chinese Cultural Revolution to Contemporary Art (Hong Kong University Press, 2007), The Revolution Continues: New Art from China (Saatchi Gallery, 2008), Red: China’s Cultural Revolution (Jonathan Cape, 2010), An Era without Memory: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation (Thames and Hudson, 2015), The Art of Contemporary China (Thames and Hudson, 2021) and The Otherness of the Everyday: 12 Conversations from the Chinese Art World during the Covid-19 Pandemic (Intellect, 2021).

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The first iteration of EXCHANGES took place in July 2022. It presented a day of artist film screenings, performance, and debate under the theme of people-place-space.

Open House: people-place-space explored how people are placemakers in the context of migration, displacement, and resistance, asking:

  • Who gets to embed meaning into a space for its citizens (and who gets left out)?
  • How can places be made and defined without excluding communities?
  • How do we listen to each other in a multilingual environment, as we attempt to understand each other’s wants and needs?
  • Can the community determine alternative use of spaces?

Our Project Space hosted a new iteration Mengting Zhuo’s ongoing performance project, Thesaurus.

In the Jasmine Suite, Remembering Place featured seven short films by international Asian filmmakers which reveal the connected identities of global East and Southeast Asian communities, curated by Moritz Cheung.

Visitors were invited to sketch out a vision for what kind of art space the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art should become and there was be a space for tea and conversation. Our shop was converted into a pop-up crafts market for the day, with surprise boxes containing hand-picked arts and crafts.

Thesaurus

For EXCHANGES Mengting Zhuo created a new iteration of her ongoing performance project, Thesaurus, which explores ways of storytelling without a subject. Playing with narrative and illusion, every performance becomes an unexpected game with an unexpected audience.

Mengting Zhuo is an artist based in London, originally from Guangzhou, China. Fusing body, sound, objects and site, she creates work that emerges from here and now, in the forms of performance, participatory installation, and concerts. Presence and liveness is at the heart of her practice, both for the audience and the artist.

She has made encounters with audiences in theatres, galleries and other spaces, including streets, a bar, a karaoke, a residential flat, and online. Her recent works have been presented in Schillertage (National Theatre Mannheim, 2021), Berliner Ringtheater (2021), The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (2019), The Palace of Ritual in Venice (2019), Chinese Arts Now Festival (2019), Migration Matters Festival (2017&18) and China Shanghai International Arts Festival (2016).

 

Remembering Place

Remembering Place featured seven short films by international Asian filmmakers which reveal the connected identities of global East and Southeast Asian communities. Using the language of filmmaking as its starting point, from mise-en-scène to semi-improvised theatre, the programme explored how artists reimagine post-colonial Asia, migration, family and friendship.

The programme illustrated multiple lived experiences of Asian migrants, and traced fragmented memories of home and community. The films explore how communities express collective memory through daily objects, domestic activities and settings, while aiming to reconfirm self-identity and seek resolution.

Remembering Place was curated by Moritz Cheung for CFCCA.

Film programme:

de(-privation)velopment, Aileen Ye, 2020, 1:39 mins
A Private Collection, Wu Chi-Yu, 2016, 13:33 mins
That ・ This, Hu Ching-Chuan, 2018, 6:35 mins
Photo Booth, Roxy Rezvany, 2022, 7:50 mins
River is My Hometown, River Cao, 2021, 8:06 mins
Chimera, Eileen Yoon, 2021, 9:34 mins
A Maiden’s Prayer, Tzuan Wu, 2021, 8:08 mins

The screening included a conversation between artist River Cao and guest curator Moritz Cheung.

de(-privation)velopment, Aileen Ye, 2020, 1:39 mins
Taken in the 1960s, the footage is from a Hong Kong tourism video made for British audiences. By removing the narration and using the same imagery to create a different juxtaposition, the film challenges the Orientalist narrative and idealism of modernisation from a decolonial perspective. In this way, the film highlights the flipside of depriving and further marginalising communities for the sake of making space for capitalistic infrastructures, whilst simultaneously parodying the colonial gaze prevalent within the footage.

About the artist:
Aileen Ye is an Irish-Chinese filmmaker and visual artist from Dublin. She was awarded the 2022 FOCUS Award by EVCOM Industry Awards. Ye graduated with an MSc in Sociology from Erasmus University Rotterdam, with a research focus on decolonising the aesthetics of moving-images. Having a background in 16mm, she creates works that reveal entangled narratives and complex social structures about Asian diasporas, memories, and heritage. She encourages audiences to consider how stories from the periphery are informed and misinformed by socio-political structures and uses experimental formats to highlight the ‘experimentality’ of life. Since starting in 2021, Ye’s work has been screened in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Taipei, New York and Berlin.

 

A Private Collection, Wu Chi-Yu, 2016, 13:33 mins
Two migrant labourers talk about their private collection: pirated DVDs. Their memories of watching movies can be traced back to their childhood while living in Myanmar; whenever they had time off work, they spent it watching pirate movies bought from the nearby market by the temple. To them, watching movies is more than entertainment; it has become a crucial way to learn about the reality of the world, and to understand the connections between life and film.

About the artist:
Wu Chi-Yu is an artist based in Taipei. Chi-Yu’s work has long been focusing on re-establishing the connections among humans, things, animals, and the ruined world left by technic capitalism. His practice revolves around the moving image, looking for contemporary narratives in lost memory through the reproducing of oral history and myths. He is also involved in different collaboration projects of installation, video installation, and performance.

 

That ・ This, Hu Ching-Chuan, 2018, 6:35 mins
For That ·This, Hu Ching-Chuan used 3-D software to scan spaces with her mobile phone, producing fragmentary and blurry images by moving the lens arbitrarily when recording. Hu then put the images of different environments scanned at different times in a new, virtual, artificial space. As such ‘that space and this space’ becomes ‘here and now’ and appears in the same virtual time-space. The artist’s mother emigrated from Myanmar to Taiwan in pursuit of an ideal life. She often contacts her family who emigrated to the United States on video call. After Hu taught them how to make panorama scans with their mobile phones, they scanned their local area and living space and sent the images to Hu via the internet. Hu then juxtaposed these images with her living space in Taiwan. The voice in the film is a dialogue from ten years ago between her mother who had immigrated to Taiwan and her aunt who had immigrated to the United States, and they still speak in Burmese. They had not seen each other for a decade, but they keep in touch through technology on the weekends. Their daily conversations are shifting through different spaces in the computer-generated world. ‘There’ and ‘here’ become closer to each other yet still far away. The fragmentary and blurry images represent the real appearance of sense and memory.

About the artist:
Currently working as a freelance artist, Hu Ching-Chuan’s art practice mainly explores the heterogeneity between technology, human memory and perception, including the relationship between reality, virtuality and what is actually real. At the same time, she reflects and ponders over the current era and the future by using experimental images, Internet technology and interactive devices to expand in the various possibilities of artistic creation. Many of Hu Ching-Chuan’s works involve using technology in reverse, focusing on the awareness of problems such as how relevant media is used and who controls it, while reweaving and reconstructing personal experiences and group consciousness.

 

Photo Booth, Roxy Rezvany, 2022, 7:50 mins
A romantic comedy drama set in 1970s London, where an immigrant couple attempt to navigate Britain’s immigration laws, and each other.

About the artist:
Roxy is a British filmmaker of Iranian-Malaysian-Chinese descent. Her short, Little Pyongyang, won Best Documentary at The Smalls Film Festival, Best Director at UnderWire Festival, Best Cinematography at the Social Impact In Media awards, and premiered in competition at CPH: Dox Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest. It has toured festivals and film events in Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and was featured on BBC World News. Roxy recently completed Honesty commissioned by BBC Film and the BFI, and Photo Booth commissioned by the Brent Borough of Culture fund which premiered at UnderWire Festival 2022 in competition for the Best Director award, and will compete for the McLaren Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2022.

 

River is My Hometown, River Cao, 2021, 8:06 mins
River is My Hometown is an elegy. When River Cao faces the loss of his hometown following the 1998 Yangtze River flood disaster and the question of his identity, he tries to re-build his own landscape to carry his melancholic thoughts. The traditional mourning ritual of his hometown ‘plead for water’ becomes a key clue — an entrance into his landscape. It substantiates his sad thoughts and imagines him as a revenant to a hometown that transcends geography.

About the artist:
River Cao is a moving image and performance artist based in London. His works arise from a mourning approach, revolving around the rebuilding of the landscape and the return of the revenants. Cao uses the performative nature of mourning and the perspective of marginalised queer identities to resurrect the small-town landscape of southern China, creating a series of self-actualised spaces to rethink the emotion of grief. River’s recent works have been presented at Sadie Coles HQ, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; Goldsmiths CCA, London; The Yard Theatre, London; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham; Spike Island, Bristol; Cromwell Place, London; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Ludwig Museum of Art, Cologne; Joy Museum, Beijing; West Bund Art Center, Shanghai.

 

Chimera, Eileen Yoon, 2021, 9:34 mins
Moments in New York lead one young woman to reflect on her childhood in Seoul as she redefines her idea of home.

About the artist:
Eileen Yoon is a director and director of photography based in New York. Her upbringing as a third culture kid has allowed her to appreciate the nuances of different cultures and have a unique lens in her storytelling. Eileen’s love for life is encapsulated in her filmmaking by using colour and movement to help tell these stories. Her clients include Nike Jordan, the Seoul Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism, MTV, and 88rising. Eileen’s films have been played on platforms that include NOWNESS Asia, CAAMFest, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and won the National Board of Review Student Grant Award. She is also a co-founder of the production company, Ozu Was Right, where they aim to tell stories and collaborate with fellow underrepresented filmmakers.

 

A Maiden’s Prayer, Tzuan Wu, 2021, 8:08 mins
This work was made for the memory of a friend who has passed on. It is structured by his poem, with stray fragments like diary films, the visiting of ruins, and semi-improv theatre, fabricating a souvenir of a faraway memory.

About the artist:
Tzu-An Wu works between experimental film and its expansions. He makes collages with analogue films, through mixing heterogeneous images, audio, and texts in an attempt to inquire about the constructs of (cinematic) narratives and the selves. He holds an MA in Media Studies from The New School, New York, and a BA in Gender and Cultural Studies from NTHU, Taiwan. His works have been shown internationally, including BFI Flare (London), IFFR (Netherland), CROSSROADS (San Francisco), Golden Horse Film Festival (Taiwan), TIDF(Taiwan). Exhibitions include Taipei Art Awards, Taiwan Biennial, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and Taipei Artist Village, etc. He also programmes experimental cinema.