[-empyre-] localized scenes, digital arts & education

Rebecca Catching rebecca.ovgallery at gmail.com
Sat Nov 20 07:51:08 EST 2010

Hi Everyone, I think we see the same problem with city-planning-lead gentrification in Shanghai. I have visited about 7 Creative Zones in Shanghai in the past few days, all with rents around 5RMB per sqm per day. That works out to around 30,000 RMB for a month for a 200 sqm space. How can a space which tries to show video, sound and installation manage to even break even with this kind of rent? Let's not even think about an artist renting studio space at this price.  

The government had this fabulous idea a few years ago of turning every old warehouse into a creative industry park so they could tell the world that Shanghai was serious about creative industries -- this had the unintended effect of pricing any vast space with high ceilings out of the range of most creative people. The only spaces available now are quite a ways out of the city center. Even Moganshan Lu is renting at 4-5 per square meter per day.

In terms of spaces which are uniquely dedicated to new media there very few. Besides Xindanwei, it's mostly museums and commercial galleries which include a few new media pieces in each show. Island 6 used to do a little bit, but it was mostly LED work and Island6 has gone somewhat commercial of late. 

Though high rents place downward pressure on the feasibility of new media art in Shanghai, the growth of museum spaces has enlarged the possibilities. The relatively newly opened spaces such as Rockbund ("By Day By Night" by Hou Hanru) and Minsheng Museum (recent screening of works by Bestué and Vives and a recent show featuring Sun Xun) offer a home to many new media projects often with top-notch projectors and sound equipment. (Note we could probably add the new Zendai space in Yangpu Qu, but I haven't been there myself. )

Then there are a host of other spaces which have always been supportive of all things experimental. 
There is Made-in Space (formerly Bizart, nuf said), Shanghart warehouse in Taopu (featuring installations by Yang Zhenzhong and Xu Zhen), ddm warehouse ("Moved, Mutated and Disturbed Identities" and "Double Act" of late with a few new media pieces) and Shanghai Gallery of Art (featuring a recent show by Hu Xiangcheng "Itinerant Deities"). 

In terms of dedicated new media exhibitions there is e-Arts, which achieved quite a lot in its first years, but it was cancelled this year. (Does anyone know more about this?)

Look fwd to hearing from other Shanghai peeps to add to the list! 


On 2010-11-18, at 3:54 AM, Edward Sanderson wrote:

> Hello Johannes, everyone,
> My knowledge is very Beijing-biased, so apologies for that.
> 798 is a perfect example of how the development of an area can kill off the creativity which attracted the attention in the first place. Following the investment in the area's infrastructure in preparation for the Olympics, 798 is a very different place from even 3 years ago. Rents skyrocketed and this forced out the more alternative/uncommercial spaces. Of course this affects any type of creativity, not just new media work. The more economically viable work, such as painting of a certain style, is in a better position to survive. I can count the spaces in 798 where there is a hope of seeing interesting work on the fingers of one hand now.
> In Beijing the only space which explicitly focuses on new media is Yuanfen Gallery in 798, which is run by an American, David Ben Kay <http://yuanfenart.com/>. He presents photography, video and interactive work in small group shows usually mixing Chinese and foreign artists, I think he curates it himself.
> Most other places have a broader remit though. Video, video+installation, animation are all common to see in group shows in the less mainstream galleries. I don't see so much work like aaajiao's on display in Beijing – maybe aaajiao can give an idea of the options for presentation for this kind of work?
> For sound work, Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou and Vitamin's "the shop" in Beijing have hosted a number of sound events (usually organised by Yan Jun, I believe) alongside their more traditional gallery activities. UCCA also host sound art and experimental music events (again, Yan Jun is involved with these).
> There are quite a few club-style events for new media performances of the DJ/VJ format, one-off nights or part of festivals. Festivals which accommodate the full range of art forms happen irregularly, Get it Louder <http://www.getitlouder.com/> or NO+CH <http://www.notch10.com/> have both included "new media" works.
> Outside of China as always I guess one relies on curators who are known to promote new media (Li Zhenhua for instance was involved in the ChinaChinaChina!!! <http://www.strozzina.org/chinachinachina/> show in 2008/9)
> As Melinda mentioned way back, there was the issue of neural.it <http://www.neural.it/art/2008/04/neural_29.phtml> which focused on Chinese new media. How do people feel it was presented there?
> Best,
> Ed
> On 2010-11-16, at 上午2:53, Johannes Birringer wrote:
>> Dear all, dear Edward
>> thanks for your recent response, and commentaries on the independent scene.
>> I felt a bit foolish afterwards for thinking that the website (Cindy Zeng/Lao Dan and Hart Cafe)
>> meant that they had expanded or changed their policy and were alive and well; I tried to
>> contact them directly but have not heard back, and this makes your observation
>> on the impact of internationalization on the local scene more poignant to me (and I was referring mostly
>> to the 798 Dashanzi district, which in 2004 looked thorough alternative & independent), when
>> i think of similar efforts to sustain grass roots or independent media labs and spaces here or elsewhere,
>> everywhere. How do these infrastructural and political-economic developments affect the
>> new media arts and performance making as such, how do they affect or influence the discourse?
>> You mention some alternative plaves in the "centers"?
>> and what kind of "new media arts" or contemporary digital performance is curated there, and what
>> is curated/supported for traveling /viewing outside of China?
>> in the northern hemisphere (or southern - if one were to think of the chinese cultural presence in Brasil as well),
>> how is contemporary chinese art met in the discourses or cracked media?
>> with regards
>> Johannes
>>>> ..Edward schrieb:
>> Although I don't want to take this off-topic too much, I just wanted
>> to chip in with some quick responses to your question about
>> alternative spaces, as this is one of my interests, and try to link
>> this to new media.
>>> and what happened to small independent/alternative art galleries or
>>> performance spaces?
>> As you probably know the international gallery system has been adopted
>> with bravado here. Admittedly it serves as a very important bridge
>> between the local and international participants, but at the expense
>> of somewhat reducing the options available for new developments, or at
>> least slowing these possibilities down.
>> New media work has suffered from this "dumbing down" (ok, that went
>> too far, perhaps simplification is a better word) of the scene,
>> probably because of it's potential complexity. I guess this is not a
>> new situation, either here or elsewhere.
>> As for "alternatives", some exist in the centers (Beijing, Shanghai,
>> Guangzhou, Hangzhou), their patterns often borrowed from conceptual or
>> institutional critique, but given the local twist there are different
>> possibilities for these activities and different results with
>> different meanings.
>> I've been here three years and I've not heard of the Hart Cafe. The
>> website looks like it's dormant and there is no address given. But
>> this is the way things work, people come and go, spaces open and close
>> without fanfare or warning. The way Hart are positioning themselves
>> suggests that they needed to broaden their appeal, to better position
>> themselves at the commercial end. This is a common and realistic tactic.
>> Another "tiny fragment" which this makes me think of would be Shan
>> Studio <http://shan-studio.com/?lang=en> set up by two artists, Sheng
>> Jie (Gogo) and Yang Tao to provide workshops and support for artists
>> working in new media. These grass-roots initiatives pop up every now
>> and again and are a good sign of diversity.
>> Best,
>> Edward
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