Xiaowen Zhu appointed as CFCCA’s new Director
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) has announced the appointment of Xiaowen Zhu as its new Director
Photograph: Haishu Chen
Zhu has worked internationally in Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, London and Berlin as a director, author and lecturer. She has organised numerous exhibitions of contemporary art, focusing primarily on the non-profit sector and bringing underrepresented artistic practices from Asia to Europe and beyond.
Formerly assistant director at Times Art Center Berlin, Zhu led institutional projects including the solo exhibition Earwax (2022) by Wong Ping, curated by Hou Hanru, the group exhibition Más Allá, el Mar Canta: Diasporic Intimacies and Labour (2021), curated by Pablo José Ramírez, and Neither Black / Red / Yellow Nor Woman (2019–2020), curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Xiaoyu Weng. She has also conceived exhibitions, public programmes and publications with artists including Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Jane Jin Kaisen, Christine Sun Kim, Ho Tzu Nyen, Koki Tanaka, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Shen Xin, Thao Nguyen Phan, Ming Wong and Zhou Tao.
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art has supported art and artists of Chinese, East and Southeast Asian heritage for over thirty years. Its exhibitions have featured work by leading artists including Patty Chang, Gordon Cheung, Xu Bing, Chen Chieh-jen, Cao Fei, Chen Man, Yang Zhichao, He Chengyao, Samson Young, Charwei Tsai and Sun Xun.
CFCCA is also pleased to welcome Philomena Chen, Simon Li, Yung Ma, aaajiao (aka Xu Wenkai) and Bonnie Yeung to its Board. The organisation additionally announces the appointment of Ella Luo as its first ever Community Development and Engagement Manager. Huina Zhang will join CFCCA this July as its new Chief Operating Officer.
These significant appointments come at a time of transformation and growth as CFCCA re-examines its purpose and works to embed collective and sustainable change to better serve its communities, including increasing the representation of people with lived experience of Chinese and East Asian heritage and culture within the organisation.
Under Xiaowen Zhu’s directorship, CFCCA will strive to widen its outreach in the art world and across society through a re-envisaged, transcultural programme and a re-activated, dynamic research framework — interconnecting the past and present of the institution’s mission and exploring what CFCCA can become as a 21st century arts organisation.
CFCCA’s galleries have been closed to the public since Covid-19 restrictions came into force in March 2020 and are due to reopen later in 2022.
Xiaowen Zhu said: “I’m thrilled to join and lead CFCCA, a 36-year-old British contemporary art institution that has created a legacy of supporting artists and cultural practitioners from East Asia and all over the world. Located in the heart of Manchester, a city known not only for its significance of manufacture and transport since the Industrial Revolution but also for its celebrated music, literature and art scene, CFCCA provides a public space of engagement, enrichment and experimentation for local, national and international communities. I can’t wait to work closely with the board to set our goals for the coming years and to form a new team that’s at once committed to our mission and creative in thinking and making things happen.”
Nick Buckley Wood, Chair of CFCCA’s Board of Trustees said: “We are delighted that Xiaowen is joining as Director and will lead the revitalisation of our space in Manchester and the widening of the institution’s national and international footprint. Alongside our refreshed Board and growing team we look forward to seeing the institution enter the next stage of its development with a focus on relevance, diversity, digitalisation, sustainability, cross-cultural dialogue and, most importantly, great exhibitions for the public.”
Xiaowen Zhu is a director, writer and lecturer. She was most recently assistant director at Times Art Center Berlin, the first parallel institution to have been set up overseas by an Asian art museum, namely, the Guangdong Times Museum. Zhu has organised and conceived numerous contemporary art exhibitions, working closely with both established and emerging artists from all over the world. She is the author of Oriental Silk (Hatje Cantz, 2020). Her essays, prose, interviews, and reviews of her book have appeared in Art Review, e-flux, Kaleidoscope, Asian Review of Books, Crown Magazine, Arts of the Working Class, It’s Nice That, and elsewhere. Zhu has given lectures and talks at Heidelberg University, Lund University, University of Westminster, Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, Syracuse University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Tsinghua University and Fudan University among others.
Philomena Chen is Head of Asia Pacific – Department for International Trade, North West. She has over 30 years working with commercial companies and in government organisations in South East Asia and in the UK. Philomena started her career in education and moved to commercial sectors in finance, human resource management, sales & marketing, hospitality management and over the year developed strong networks and collaborative partnerships in diverse East and West international environments.
Simon Li (FCCA) is Chairman of China Alliance Group Limited. He is a qualified accountant from ACCA since 2004 with over 26 years of experience in the finance and accounting industry, including senior finance roles in Wanda Group, Peel Holding, and Sharp Electronics. Li’s area of expertise includes property investment, football and education. He works closely with the UK government to attract inward investment from China and South East Asia. In his spare time, he takes an active role in helping charities, churches and local communities and schools to promote cultural events like Chinese New Year celebrations, Moon Festivals and other sports events.
Yung Ma is currently Curator at the Hayward Gallery in London. Ma was most recently the Artistic Director for the 11th Seoul Mediacity City Biennale, which took place at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) from September to November, 2021. Prior to the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, Ma served as Curator of the Contemporary Art and Prospective Creation Department at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He was previously Associate Curator of Moving Image at M+, Hong Kong, where he developed the institution’s moving image collection. Ma was twice Co-Curator of the Hong Kong Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2009 and 2013).
aaajiao (aka Xu Wenkai) is a Shanghai and Berlin based artist who is active online as the homonymous virtual persona — a media artist, blogger, activist and programmer. Many of aaajiao’s works speak to new thinkings, controversies and phenomenon around the Internet, with specific projects focusing on the processing of data, the blogsphere and China’s Great Fire Wall. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, and in 2014 he was awarded the Art Sanya Awards Jury Prize and was nominated for the first edition of OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize.
Bonnie Yeung, is from the third generation of the Yeung family behind Manchester institution, Yang Sing. She has worked with a focus on modernising Yang Sing and developing partnerships with the city’s cultural and charitable organisations. Bonnie is a passionate Sino-Mancunian, proud to have a cross-cultural heritage and is an active member of the Manchester Chinese community.
Huina Zhang has been living and working in London for over thirteen years. She has abundant experience managing contemporary art galleries and charity organisations, including working on art auctions at Sotheby’s and at China Exchange UK. Her journey in the Chinese contemporary art world started in 2006 when she took her first gallery job in Beijing Caochangdi Art District, working with some of the most well recognised Chinese artists, as well as promising young graduates from art institutions.