Everyday Legend: Reinventing Traditions in Contemporary Chinese art
Registration is now open for: The 11th Annual Conference, Centre for Chinese Visual Art, Birmingham City University

Everyday Legend: Reinventing Traditions in Contemporary Chinese art

September 10-11, 2018

School of Art, Birmingham City University, Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BX

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
  • Professor Qiu Zhijie (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing)
  • Dr Pi Li (M+, Hong Kong)
  • Professor Michael Hitchcock (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Professor Oliver Moore (University of Groningen)
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 conference to invite researchers, curators, art historians, critics and artists at all stages of their careers worldwide to contribute to the topic.

During the early development of the People’s Republic of China, major cities were industrialised and historical architecture was severely neglected. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) provided an extraordinary example of political mobilisation directed against the material and cultural vestiges of the past. Since the 1980s, the pace of globalisation and the force of its reshaping influences have posed a serious threat to the sustainability of Chinese traditions, as Western culture have permeated Chinese cities for an ‘internationalisation’. Urbanisation and tourism has turned Chinese traditional art and crafts from indigenous to touristic and commercial, from the ‘local’ to ‘global’. Today in China, much of what is described as ‘traditional’ is no longer part of an everyday reality, but is instead an item of material culture ranging from discrete displays of museum cases to monumental structures of historical significance.

To reflect critically upon this cultural anxiety, will tradition reinvent the past for the future and translate from China to the world? Tradition stands in the first instance for the heritage – including its intangible dimensions – of cultural activities and products whose possible extinction is now sharply profiled by relentless social adjustments to standardised industrial production, transnational distribution, mass marketing, centralised media flows, and patterns of imagination that stress the global ahead of the national ahead of the local.

This unique situation in China provides contemporary artists with challenges and opportunities, as traditions are constantly reassessed, and reinvented. Looking towards the fragmented traditions, artists stand in various positions favourable to reimagining, appropriating and subverting the processes that traditional art and crafts have long used, harnessing their symbolic potential and exploiting their cultural resonances. Through their practices, artists re-examine, draw from and be inspired by the traditions, including techniques, forms and materials, as well as aspects of their intangible cultural heritages, critically reflect upon their current situations and its implications to the present and future, and ultimately, reposition Chinese contemporary art in the international arena.

This conference aims to reassess the cultural significance of these everyday traditions relevant to China and to the world today, and in particular, responding to the relationship between contemporary art and traditional arts and culture in China. We encourage innovative and interdisciplinary perspectives, including art, social sciences, anthropology, visual and material culture and tourism, in order to develop new understandings of Chinese contemporary art in the context of globalisation.

This conference will be part of the conclusions of the two-year Leverhulme International Network project, ‘Everyday Legend’ (2016-18). Led by CCVA at Birmingham City University, international partners of this project also include the New Century Art Foundation and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, University of Groningen, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and the White Rabbit Contemporary Chinese Art Collection in Sydney.

Invited full papers will be featured in the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) as a special double issue, to be published in autumn 2019.

To register your place, please click here
Posted by Tessa Mathieson at 14:20 (0) comments
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