Pak Sheung-chuen, Waiting for all People Sleep.

Defining a Contemporary Chinese Culture beyond a Global Perception

Lu Chunsheng, One of the most stupid attacks against science fiction is that it is unable to forecast the future.

Duan Jianyu, Art Chicken8, Painting.

Wu Ershan, Nomadic Clothes, scultura, 180 cm, 2008.


Centre for Contemporary Culture
la Strozzina (CCCS)
Palazzo Strozzi
Piazza Strozzi
+ 39 055 27 76 461/06
China China China!!!,
Chinese Contemporary Art
Beyond the Global Market

March 21-May 4, 2008

This exhibition presents the work of 18 contemporary Chinese artists from three cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou — all seeking to define a new cultural identity unfettered by the rules of the global market. A publication (Silvana Editoriale) and series of lectures are planned to coincide with the exhibition. This event complements the exhibition China: at the Court of the Emperors. Unknown masterpieces from Han tradition to Tang elegance (25-907), on view from March 7 to June 8 on the first floor of Palazzo Strozzi, devoted to the Tang dynasty, recognized as a high point in Chinese civilisation and central to the Chinese renaissance.

The aim of the CCCS, is to approach the "China phenomenon’" from a different viewpoint. For this reason the project is entrusted to three Chinese curators: Davide Quadrio, founder and director of BizArt in Shanghai, the first and only self-supporting and non-profit cultural organisation in China, also active in The In-Between, a network of alternative art spaces in Europe and Asia; Li Zhenhua, founder of the independent Art Lab in Beijing, artist and promoter of the new media art in China; and Zhang Wei, director of Vitamin Creative Space Contemporary Art in Guangzhou. They are all based and operate in different parts of China but share a commitment to consolidating an independent critical platform to support artistic production in China. They want art that goes beyond the official confines and is not bound by the rules of the art market, art that represents the complex reality of a modern China in the process of change and cultural transformation.

This is a crucial moment in China’s search for cultural identity as it strives to reconcile the weight of tradition, a troubled recent socio-political history and the rapid entry into the Western-style global economy. The most visionary contemporary art in China attempts to shape the future in the light of the past. In a very short space of time, China is experiencing a process that in Western culture evolved over centuries. But as the Florentine Renaissance of the 15th century led to the emergence of the city by its use of culture as a vital channel of communication, modern China is investing extensively in the development of a cultural infrastructure and in its promotion abroad.

The exhibition presents a lively interchange between the curators’ three sections, representing three distinct but complementary attitudes and perceptions.

Zhang Wei, curator from Guangzhou, in Throwing Dice, brings together artists of different backgrounds, training and modes of expression. Zhang Wei presents individual visions of human existence in a fragmented and constantly changing world. The videos of Kan Xuan, Pak Sheung Chuen, and Yang Fudong (acclaimed in the most recent Venice Biennale), digital animations by Cao Fei (also present at the Biennale), technological installations by Chu Yun, and paintings by Duan Jianyu offer individual stories that engage the spectator in the exploration of a shared existential landscape and in the constant tension between the world of dreams and of reality.

The installation in the section by Davide Quadri, curator in Shanghai for 15 years, Art is not enough, not enough!, is produced by CCCS where it is given its world premiere. The multimedia installation draws on interviews made by the curator with 40 artists in Shanghai, who consider questions about the role of the artist, their relationship with the external world, social consequences of their work and the international market’s effect on traditional modes of artistic production. This presentation offers an anthropological insight into the urban panorama of modern Shanghai.

Questions of geo-political identity and cultural relativism are the focus of Multi-Archaeology, the section curated by Li Zhenhua. Installations by the Mongolian artists Wu Ershan and Ren Qinga, highlight the often conflicting relations between the different cultural groups in China today and pose questions about the undermining of the individual in the face of social upheaval. Both installations, created especially for this exhibition in Florence, take as their theme the human condition in the face of an uncertain future. The art video by Zhao Liang and Shen Shaomin documents the situation on the Chinese border with North Korea and Russia. An analysis of the consequences of the Mongolian invasion by Genghis Khan on Asiatic culture is compared to the impact of modern globalization, in the constant cultural interchange between East and West.

Cao Fei, video still from I·Mirror.

Yang Fudong, An Estranged paradise.