Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quick Links

Unfortunately, I have not had the time this past week to go visit a gallery, so that'll have to come this weekend followed by a post-visit blog post.  For now however, I wanted to share a couple of links/quotes that I thought would be helpful in our endeavor of studying contemporary Chinese art (especially since I think that many of these touch upon the issues we had raised last Thursday).

Artnet had a art-news roundup from around the globe where it briefly mentioned the speculations surrounding whether or not the SHContemporary Art Fair was going to return this year.  Now, up until now I had never heard of this fair, so it piqued my interest, and although I don't think most of us will be able to go (since it is scheduled for September), but it's pretty depressing that the global financial crisis is starting to dig its claws into the Chinese art scene.  (I don't know much about the SHContemporary Art Fair, so Defne, if you have any insights concerning the event that you could share with the class about this, I'd greatly appreciate it).

Speaking of news in the vein of "abysmal-economy-affecting-the-art-market", China Daily had an article last week that talked about how Chinese artists and their surrounding art community were trying to pick themselves up after the fledgling performance of this past winter.  It's not a substantial read, but they discuss the repetition of subject matter that we have raised in class:

The slowdown in the Chinese contemporary art market is not surprising, according to Fang Zhenning, an independent art critic in Beijing.

"Art works are commodities, just like sugar or copper. The art market, like any other market, is speculative in nature and has its ups and downs," he said.

Fang said the challenge for China's prominent artists, such as Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun, is to see whether they can keep innovating.

"To change or to repeat themselves. That's the question," he said.

The overheated Chinese art market also raised issues for rising young artists.

"What people are concerned about is all these young artists coming to the art world as a job rather than as a creative thing," said Wallace.

"They've got the skills and they know the market is here. So you see a lot of repetitiveness in their subject matter, particularly in place like 798," he said.

This ARTnews article, though a year old, is still remarkably keen and detailed in its explication of the widening net of contemporary art and also, the limitations of its emergence in China.  I don't think we discussed this in class, but the underdeveloped role of curators is something to think about in connection with the museums that we have seen:
A key problem has been the absence of training programs for museum professionals in China, a country where the term “curator” did not exist ten years ago. Even now, there is only one program in curatorial studies, run by the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, which is graduating its first class this year. “In China, we didn’t have degrees such as arts management or curatorial studies, so most of the museum directors were originally artists,” says Fan Di’an, who like many directors in China got his position through political appointment. Lack of training is evident at all levels of museum management, as is an absence of professional art handlers and restorers, all of which results in poorly installed exhibitions and damaged artworks, especially at state-run museums. “They have no practice, and they are not interested in developing the proper standards,” comments Marie-Laure Jousset, head of the Pompidou Center’s design department and curator of the exhibition “Fabrica: les yeux ouverts,” which was on view last fall at the Shanghai Art Museum. Jousset had to bring an entire crew of installers and art handlers to Shanghai to ensure proper care of the artworks. “They want the event, and they want our name, but they don’t want to spend money,” she laments. “We had to have long discussions about how a museum has to reach a certain level in order to gain credibility.”

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