Reading corner…

As time goes on, the more I seem to read. The more I read, the more I seem to write, or try to write. Writing is hard sometimes. Sometimes functional words appears if I’m lucky, but most of the time some completely lack any purpose. Perhaps I’m quite cynical today, or just tired. I swam 40 lengths earlier and had to nap afterwards. ’40 lengths’ would make a great name for a film, or maybe an exhibition? Note to self…and copyrighted ok?

I follow the work of Hyperallergic…”a forum for serious, playful and radical thinking about art in the world today”. Their coverage of developments and happenings within the contemporary Chinese art both in [largely] the USA is pretty good. They recently posted a particularly interesting article on ‘What Do Chinese Artists Think About Chelsea?’…my immediate thought was probably not that much, apart from on a shallow, surface level the kudos that comes with exhibiting in this area as it is infamous for its commercial art galleries, the overwhelming number of gallery-types that would come out on Saturdays to grab a contemporary art fix outside of your own art institution (I remember those days and miss them greatly) where the art market is simply oozing out of every door. If they know anything about New York, then they would already understand that it is one of the most high-profile art districts in the world to exhibit your work to the global arena. The contemporary Chinese art scene is certainly familiar with the commercial side of things…it often becomes more important than anything else. This article presents the exhibition Catch The Moon in the Water recently on view at the James Cohan Gallery until 29th June 2011. It examines the idea of Chinese artists “paying back a favour” by creating works influenced by and for the West, both in a contextual and physical sense. Some succinct thoughts…

A fellow Tweeter and friend sent me an image of the front cover of the current issue of the quarterly magazine ‘Intelligent Life’ by the Economist as he thought it might be right up my street (thanks Lee!). In BIG letters it said: ‘ON THE MARCH – China’s Young Women’ by Hilary Spurling…although not explicitly to do with contemporary Chinese art, it definitely [again] provided some well needed food for thought. Taking a more historicised global and urban perspective on China, referencing the relationships between the rural and urban, the article presents past examples of how women’s lives have been contained and limited, and more recently revolutionised and transformed, giving them independence and liberation. In the case of contemporary Chinese art, it’s notable that there are not a huge amount of female artists out there.

“By 2015…half the population [of China] will be urbanised…The much younger women I met belong to what is generally agreed to be the luckiest of all the generations, born in the 1980s and 1990s to a time of prosperity and social mobility no longer so stringently constrained by political or practical exigencies of hunger and want. “They think differently,” one of their elders said to me.” – Hilary Spurling

Another body of text worth reading is ‘ON-CURATING ISSUE 09: Curating Critique’ from ON-CURATING.ORG…an “independent international Web-Journal focusing on questions around curatorial practice and theory”. I’ve been talking a lot recently with colleagues about the idea of criticality within contemporary Chinese art history…so when an email arrived in my inbox telling me about this issue of the online journal I was quite pleased. I just hoped at some stage within its pages it referenced the development of East Asian curatorial practices and critical theory. So it really came at the right time. This copy of the journal was originally published as a book in 2007, however it sold out very quickly and they decided to kindly published it online. It aims to present “a cross-section of the voices that populate the ongoing debate about, on the one hand, how and in what terms curating functions as a critical cultural practice, and on the other, what methodologies and histories exist with which we can critically analyse curatorial work today.” They are certainly ongoing issues, that are still going on nearly five years on from when it was first issued…take a look. Referenced within Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt’s essay ‘FALSE ECONOMIES – TIME TO TAKE STOCK’ is this…

Taken from Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt's essay 'FALSE ECONOMIES – TIME TO TAKE STOCK', ONCURATING.org Issue 9

I think you can just about make out the numbers and the text…anyway it made me think about the cyclical model that I am in the process of creating as regards the process of interpretive translation as pat of curatorial practice in the West versus China. Would the model above work in China I ask myself? Some strands seem to follow, others I don’t think are even relevant…if artist and curatorial infrastructures are so loose in China, how can we apply a model to it? Just a thought. It is only in Sarat Maharaj’s essay ‘MERZ-THINKING – SOUNDING THE DOCUMENTA PROCESS BETWEEN CRITIQUE AND SPECTACLE’ that there is any direct relevance to my thesis…particularly in his examinations of the ‘Global and the Universal’ and ‘Migration-Translation’.

“By deterritorialisation I mean both new media, ethernet dimensions of mind, art and culture and present-day migrations: the traffic of people, border crossings, labour circulations of the global economy. It is about the ‘non-documented’: illegals, refugees, clandestini, sans papiers, asylum-seekers, aliens, detainees, deportees. To keep track, we need an auto-updating dictionary and an atlas of detention centres, prisons, transit camps that ‘process’ migrants…a global communicative sphere seething with translation, a jangle of tongues, of heterogeneous, ever-mutating identities.” – Sarat Maharaj

He questions today’s communicative space being…

“…riddled with incompatible ways of living and knowing, jammed with cultural difference and untranslatables. It is cacophonic Babel, rather more a space of interference and cross-talk than poised conversational shuttle. It is pervaded by an ominous sense of radical otherness and difference in our midst…In this space of non-accord, self/other have both to forge a lingo for living in and through difference, contradiction and plurality and to stitch together a commonality or ‘plane of parley’.” – Sarat Maharaj

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