A presentation by Ziying Duan, recipient of the 2016 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation China Research Grant. Duan shared reflections and conclusions from her year-long research project into experimental art activities happening in Guangdong, China from the late 1990s to early 2000s. Taking the exhibition Canton Express, curated by Hou Hanru for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, as a departure point, this presentation expanded on discussions of a regional art identity and considered contemporary art from Guangdong in light of “the spatial turn” seen in cultural and curatorial practices around the turn of the millennium.
Following the presentation, Duan was joined in conversation by Xu Tan, artist and member of the ‘Big Tail Elephant Group’, one of the four participating artist groups featured in Canton Express. In their discussion, they considered questions such as how did we make sense of artists in relationship to their regional affiliations? What were the dangers of analyzing art practices primarily based on a shared urban context? Could there be a regionally themed exhibition without localism?
Ziying Duan was born in China and is currently based in San Francisco. Duan holds an MA degree in curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts and a BA degree in art history from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. She was previously assistant curator at both the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco and at Kadist, San Francisco, where she handled Asia-related programming. Her upcoming curatorial project reconsiders the role of religion in the immigrant experience and in the Civil Rights Movement.
Xu Tan was born in China in 1957 and graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. In 1993 he became a member of the Big Tail Elephant Group (Da Wei Xiang), an experimental art collective formed in Guangzhou. His work has been shown at Location 1 Art Center, New York; YBCA, San Francisco; the Berlin, Jakarta, Kwangju, Venice, Shanghai and Sharjah Biennales, and at the Guangzhou Triennial, among other international exhibitions. He has received artist-in-residence fellowships from DAAD, Berlin and the Asia Culture Council, New York. He currently lives between the Pearl River Delta, China and New York.