Meeting #5: Broken Production Chain

Planet Marx

Time: June 22, 2019

Location: KWM Art Center, Beijing

Guest speakers: Liu Wei, Song Yi

Planet Marx arrived at its fifth station, KWM artcenter, where we launched an in-depth discussion on the production mode of Chinese contemporary art. We heard artist Liu Wei, curator Song Yi, and the Long March Project researcher Zian Chen describe and debate on the condition of art production in Beijing and elsewhere in China, how it has changed and is still changing. How does the art community react to an environment of production that is shifting rapidly from low-cost to costly?

At the beginning of the session, we focused on the article “Metabolism of Political Economy” (2017) by Kohei Saito, one of the scholars who has re-examined Marxist theories on metabolic rift in recent years. His article led us to re-read Pauline Yao’s In Production Mode: Contemporary Art in China (2008). This book not only serves as a window on to the condition of art-making around the time of Beijing Olympics, but also as a stark reminder of what was at the center of this “production mode” a mere ten years ago — cheap and spacious studio and labor costs in close proximity to small factories that could function as artwork fabricators. To provide a visual reference point, we screened a video made by British artist and curator Tim Crowley and art history researcher Zhang Yuling profiling artist Liu Wei’s studio.

Click here for a summary of this session