CFP: Centre for Chinese Visual Art (CCVA) 10th annual conference

ccva hd

Thursday 12 and Friday 13 October 2017

School of Art, Birmingham City University

Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BX, England

Call for papers: Chinese art outside the art space

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies. During its first decade, CCVA has established a unique position in the UK to pioneer the research in the field. We are now convening this two-day Annual Conference to invite researchers, curators, art historians, critics and artists at all stages of their careers worldwide to contribute to the topic, marking the 10th anniversary of the Centre.

Historically, in China, ‘art outside the art space’ can be understood as both a cultural and a political proposition. From a cultural point of view, the notion of public ‘exhibition’ is entirely Western, whilst in the Chinese tradition of literati art for example, artworks were made, shared, and appreciated within the form of scholarly ‘elegant gathering’ (yaji), which was essentially a kind of private (rather than public) event within secluded (rather than institutional) spaces. From a political perspective, the ‘outside-ness’ immediately relates to the ‘unofficial’ status of contemporary Chinese art from its early development. For example, the first Star Group exhibition in September 1979 – generally acknowledged as the very first show that marked the beginning of contemporary art in China – was staged in a small public park just next to the China National Art Museum, outside the legitimated and official art space. Today, the situation of Chinese art taking place outside the museum and gallery spaces continues, but with a completely different momentum and agenda.

Art has been produced site-specifically for the spaces other than art institutions in China, including those of working venues, shown in a range of alternative spaces beyond galleries or museums, and has ‘happened’ in the public sphere and become political or social ‘events’, or artistic ‘incidents’, as a special form of ‘exhibition’. Creative curatorial and artistic strategies have been developed to respond to the constraints of art institutions, censorships and at the same time, to push the boundaries of art. Focusing on art made, displayed, performed or executed outside the conventional venues of art museums and galleries, this conference not only offers a unique perspective to understand Chinese art in the contemporary context, but also, more importantly, it aims to critically reflect upon the understandings between art and art exhibition, between artistic productions and audience perceptions, and between art and our daily life.

We invite papers from innovative and interdisciplinary perspectives to develop new understandings of Chinese contemporary art. The following series of relationships in the context of Chinese art and culture is seen indicative, but not limited to the discussions:

  • China’s art museums, galleries and alternative spaces
  • Curatorial strategies and artistic responses beyond institutional spaces
  • Exhibitions, events and incidents
  • Art production, dissemination, participation and reception
  • Performance and performativity
  • Art and everyday life
  • Contemporary art and censorship

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words, a 100-word biography, contact information and any institutional affiliations, by 31 March 2017 to ccva@bcu.ac.uk, with a subject titled ‘10th Annual Conference’. Any general queries should also be directed to ccva@bcu.ac.uk. Conference presentations should last no more than 20 minutes. Successful proposals for conference contributions will be notified in early April 2017. Invited full papers should be completed by 28 February 2018, to be featured in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) as a special issue in autumn 2018.

Contemporary Art Practices and Knowledge Production in the Middle East – 24 November

Research seminar: Contemporary Art Practices and Knowledge Production in the Middle East

24 November, 2016, 2pm-4pm at International Project Space, School of Art

Speakers:  Bashir Makhoul, Larissa Sansour and Shadi Habib Allah.

Convened and moderated by Jonathan Harris and Anthony Downey

In a globalised cultural economy, it would appear that art as a practice is increasingly called upon to do something, especially when it comes to making sense of history, conflict, revolution and upheaval. In a period broadly defined as one in which we are experiencing a global crisis, contemporary art is also viewed as a document for producing socio-political, if not historical, knowledge (be it of globalisation, revolution, armed conflict or injustice). These issues remain key to any formal critical analysis of contemporary cultural production within and about the Middle East, nowhere more so than when we consider how visual culture from the region has been historically legitimized through the media-friendly symbolism of conflict.

Throughout this research seminar, international artists, including Bashir Makhoul, Larissa Sansour and Shadi Habib Allah, will consider these issues in relation to their individual practices. Are artists, we will enquire, increasingly expected to produce work that refers to a socio-political landscape, creating, in turn, media-friendly ‘sound bites’ of information that are available for global consumption? Can art, moreover, produce forms of knowledge that disavow the superficiality of such ideas? And if so, what kind of knowledge?  This is not, of course, a region-specific issue, and there are international dimensions to these questions of cultural interpretation, critical agency and institutional legitimacy that will be further examined throughout this research seminar.

The event will be convened by Jonathan Harris and moderated by Anthony Downey, and will include film-screenings and individual presentations.

There will be an opportunity for a Q and A with the artists, following the presentations.

Artists Biographies  

Bashir Makhoul (b. 1963) was born in Makhoul in northeast Galilee, by then assimilated into Israel. He is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University and an artist of international repute. He has exhibited widely around the world and took part, with a show titled Otherwise Occupied, in the Venice Biennale in 2013. More recent shows have included Floating Free at the Palestinian Art Court (al Hoash in partnership with Birzeit University Museum) in 2015. He is also the author, with Gordon Hon, of The Origin of Palestinian Art (Liverpool University Press, 2013) and the editor of Palestinian Video Art: Constellations of the Moving Image (Palestinian Art Court — al Hoash, 2013)

Larissa Sansour (b. 1973) was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine, and now lives and works in London. Her work is interdisciplinary, utilising video, photography, sculpture and installation. Central to her practice is the tug and pull between fiction and reality. In her recent body of works, she uses science fiction to address social and political issues in the Middle East. Recent solo exhibitions include New Art Exchange in Nottingham, Mosaic Rooms in London, Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, Turku Art Museum in Finland, Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Wolverhamptom Art Gallery and DEPO in Istanbul.

Shadi Habib Allah (b. 1977, Jerusalem, Palestine; lives and works New York) works with modes of navigation across circulation networks of people, technologies, objects, images and economy to examine ideas of use and value and the structures that hold them in place. Working across film, sculpture, drawing and installation, each project defines its own terms based on research and physical engagement. His work has been exhibited at the Palestine c/o Venice at the Venice Biennale (2009), Art Statements Art Basel 43 (2012), and the New Museum Triennial (2015), amongst other venues. His Films have screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Courtisane Festival Belgium and the 40th Norwegian Film Festival.

 

Convenors

Professor Jonathan Harris, PhD, studied art history at Sussex and Middlesex Universities in England (1980-86), and completed a doctorate on the visual arts in New York in the 1930s (published as his first book in 1995 by Cambridge University Press). He has published 20 books and over 200 journal and magazine essays on modern and contemporary art. Harris’s most recent book was The Utopian Globalists: Artists of Worldwide Revolution 1919-2009 (Wiley-Blackwell 2013). His forthcoming book is The Global Contemporary Art World: A Rough Guide (Wiley-Blackwell 2017). With Menene Gras and Bashir Makhoul he is the editor of Contemporary Art in Global Asia (IB Tauris, forthcoming 2017). His work has recently focused on global art worlds in India, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Palestine.

Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University. His research focuses on contemporary art practices and the politics of cultural production in the Middle East and across the Global South. Recent and upcoming publications include Don’t shrink me to the Size of a bullet: The Works of Hiwa K (Walther König Books, forthcoming, 2017); Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East (Sternberg Press, 2016); Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2015); Art and Politics Now  (Thames and Hudson, 2014); and Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practice in North Africa and the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2014).

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