Art & Development, Research

in Guangzhou this weekend?

The Guangzhou Triennial opens this weekend, and the program sounds fantastic.

I really enjoyed my 2001 visit to Guangzhou (Canton). Guangzhou is the major city in Guangdong—the large southern region including the Pearl River Delta and original home to something like 90% of Chinese immigrants who came to California prior to the 1965 Immigration Act. Guangdong is also where my maternal and paternal ancestral villages are; both family lines can be traced back several generations (as many as 26, on my mom’s side) in that region.

Anyway, during my visit I found Guangzhou to be really cool—a bustling metropolis full of young people breaking from the past. The triennial program sounds like Guangzhou is finally getting into the game with some forward-thinking contemporary art practices—a contender to Hong Kong’s and Beijing’s dominance as top art centers in China! I’m especially fascinated with the program’s theme.

For the curatorial discourse of this Triennial, we propose to say ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’. This represents the theoretical basis from which we hope to explore our critical vision. The Triennial attempts to open new frontiers for creativity with a critical review of the role cultural discourses of Post-colonialism and Multi-culturalism has played in contemporary art. While affirming Post-colonialism’s achievements in exposing hidden ideological agenda in society and inspiring new art, this Triennial also critically examines its limitations for creativity, and calls for a fresh start.

We hope to uncover elements of the paradoxical reality veiled by contemporary cultural discourse, to make contact with realms that slip through the cracks of well-worn concepts such as class, gender, tribe and hybridity. We hope to think together with artists and investigate through their practices to find what new modes and imaginative worlds are possible for art beyond those already heavily mapped out by socio-political discourses.

GZ Triennial will host 181 artists from over 40 countries around the world, including 50 films/videos from the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa under the projects “Middle East Channel”, “East-South: Out of Sight” and “Africa: Personal Poetics”….

(By the way, if you think that China is monolithic and closed, as most Americans think, I should mention that one of the things I learned on my visit were the significant numbers of African immigrants in China, who often study in the universities.)

The 7 “Forums in Motion” of the 3rd Triennial is a long expedition that traverses across a wide terrain of ideas which focus on Farewell to Post-Colonialism, Limits of Multi-Culturalism, Thinking Through the Visual, … Anxiety of Creativity and Possible Worlds and Farewell to Post-colonialism — Towards a Post-Western Society?

Saying farewell to post-colonialism and peering into the future for glimpses of a post-Western society— or the century to follow the American Century—is something that really resonates with my installation, Binary Pair, in Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition.

THANKS to everyone who made it to the opening last night! I had a blast and it was so nice to see smiling faces and hear respected colleagues’ impressions of the work! If you missed it, stop by YBCA before October 19 to catch the show — it’s almost all new work, featuring 5 CA artists paired with 5 Manila-based artists.


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