Evening of the Long March -
DEAF (Dutch Electronic Art Festival)
DEAF – Dutch Electronic Art Festival
April 10 – 29, 2007
INTERACT OR DIE
The Poetics of Power
The means with which we act and intervene in cultural, socio- political and economic spheres is becoming increasingly managed – if not entirely conditioned – by technological systems. We are presented by an ultimatum in the form of invisibly managed and distributed provocation which influences our behaviour and actions vis-a-vis our global environment. Movements and conditions become scripted, forcing us into a scenario of instinctual interaction versus willful resistance. If one accepts the notion that an organism, be it living, societal or technological only survives if it is able to successfully interact with its environment, are we then faced with a new form of being when that environment becomes unstable undergoing constant and rapid flux? If our space of movement and communication becomes completely alien how do we create new strategies and mechanisms for survival? Do we at all have the power to choose the means with which to intervene in the processes of indeterminate or unforeseeable transformation?
Our responses to these conditions lie in the ability to create new forms of networks in which the pervasive mechanisms of control can be creatively subverted, or kept in check by principles of self- organisation. Technological structures themselves are not generally conceived as self-organising entities but as highly formalised systems which collide with the social, cultural, artistic and expressive input driving them. It is in this space of collision of systems, behaviours and control mechanisms that new, emancipated and critical entities emerge, creating a new poetics of power, which we artists, theorists, hacktivists and designers are challenged to counter and engage.
Time: 20:00 PM – 21: 30 PM, April 11, 2007
Venue: RO Theatre, Rotterdam
As part of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival, organizer V2 Center for Unstable Media (Rotterdam), conducted a series called the ‘Evenings of …’ to which invited special guest curators and artists to design ‘a la carte’ events at which they explore the backgrounds and inner workings of their specific practice. The Long March Project was invited to ‘design’ an evening event, partly as a way of exploring aspects of its work which normally does not have an opportunity to be dealt with publicly, and partly as a way to give an opportunity to bring together different conceptual strands of interests. The ‘Evening of the Long March’ features Lu Jie, founder and director of the Beijing based Long March Project, and a number of DEAF participants invited to join into an active dialogue between divergent artistic cultures – those of Asia and Europe. Renowned Dutch thinker and media theorist, Henk Oosterling, joined the evening as a co-presenter. The event took the form of a non-exhibition format of an onsite criticism meeting.
Contemporary Chinese art (and contemporary art in general) faces several different problems, of which, many are linked closely with the Long March’s own projects. From 2002 until today, the Long March Project’s thinking and discourse has been filled with paradoxes, its efforts at practice are marked with signs of failure and fatigue. To what extent are its field investigations an enclosed effort? The Long March Space in Beijing, while providing a comprehensive platform which has contributed greatly to contemporary Chinese art in a period of transition, but its function and operating model also raise voices of doubt. The past few years has also seen the Long March’s swift horizontal expansion, participating in two to three biennale exhibitions and three to five international museum exhibitions annually to become a world renowned contemporary Chinese art “movement”? “Project”? “Organization”?
Has the project, or similar projects, lost its original ground by participating, translating and moving into the global? This is an opportunity to communicate and dialogue, to hold an onsite criticism meeting with the artworld and participants regarding the numerous problems. The setup of the project was presented like a trail with Henk Oosterling acting as the judge, and Lu Jie acting as the defendant. The plaintiff/witnesses were over international and Chinese participants. All the while, “Slogans of the New Long March,” were continually broadcasted onto the background, creating tension atmosphere of a criticism meeting.
The departure point of this two hour discursive journey was the Long March, but entered into the larger space of how artists creation, communication and mediation, transformation, and intervene with the current ways of organizing, sharing and distributing cultural resources in conjunction with the rapidly changing and troubled social, political and economic developments of our times. The atmosphere and setting blurred the boundaries between dialogue and performance.
Lu Jie, initiator and director of Long March
Co-presenter and Discussant
Henk Oosterling, renowned Dutch thinker and media theorist
Chinese artists, curators, critics and educators taking part in DEAF
International artists, curators, critics and educators taking part in DEAF
China Program at DEAF07
6 Primary Program Parts
– DEAF07 Exhibition, with works by Yang Zhenzhong, Zhang Peili, Hu Jie Ming, Zhou Hong Xiang (perhaps also by Yao Bin, Jin Jiangbo and Feng Mengbo)
– ‘Evening of the Long March’ curated by Lu Jie
– Seminar: Media Art Education in China, with Zhang Peili, Chen Xiaoqing, Lu Xiaobo, Zhang Ga and moderated perhaps by Wei Zhang
– Panel: Opening Creative Space – Rooting Media Arts in China, with presentations by independent art space curators including Wei Zhang, Yao Bin, Davide Quadrio, Gong Yan, moderated perhaps by Li Zhenhua
– Panel: Harmonizing Instability: Electronic Art and Technological Revolutions in China, with selected artists/curators from the program
– Booklauch: “The Chinese Dream – a society under construction”, with Neville Mars, Dynamic City Foundation
Exhibition / Event artists
Yang Zhenzhong, (Shanghai) – Surrounded
Hu Jieming, (Shanghai) – Up Up !
Zhang Peili, (Hangzhou) – Phrase
Zhou Hongiang, (Shanghai) – Chinese Portraits
Jin Jiangbo, (Beijing) – Cry
Lu Jie, director Long March Space, Beijing
Neville Mars, architect and artist Dynamic City Foundation, Beijing
Book Presentation “The Chinese Dream – a society under construction”
Li Zhenhua, artist and ArtLab curator, Beijing
Yao Bin, artist, curator Cubic Art Space, Beijing
Zhang Wei, director, Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou
Xu Shuxian curator, Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou
Davide Quadrio, director BizArt, Shanghai
Ellen Pau, artist and curator, microwave Hong Kong
Aaajiao, blogger, we-need-money-not-art, Beijing
Chen Xiaoqing, Dean, New Media Art Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
Lu Xiaobo, professor, Tsinghua University, Beijing
Xiao Huiwang, Photographer, educator, Shanghai (Tongji)
Zhang Ga artist and curator, Beijing/New York
Additional Program Guests
Tian Sun, art historian and editor of Time+Architecture, Shanghai
Fu Ge, journalist, the art/culture columnist and senior editor the Nanfang Weekend
Jiang Jun, editor of Urban China magazine
Participants still under Consideration:
Zhang Qing, director Shanghai Biennale
Zhang Li, curator, Beijing
Isaac Leung, artist and curator, Videotage Hong Kong
Gong Yan, Director of Art Centre Shanghai
Spylab, Parsons NY – Beijing collaborative project (via Zhang Ga)
DEAF07 Program Assistants
Lu Leiping, curator/educator, Shanghai
Welcome ladies and gentlemen! My name is Henk Oosterling. We are going to judge and pass sentence tonight on Chinese artist Lu Jie, who mimicked Chairman Mao’s Long March and before as charged and prosecutors formulate accusations, we will give the accused an opportunity to defend himself.
It is very hard without receiving criticism to defend myself, so please go ahead with your accusations first.
In order to inform the people, we need to give some background information about the project. So I wanted to give you the possibility before being sentenced, and it might help you formulate your self-criticism.
I think a 15 minute presentation of the Long March Project, its problems and the issues we raised, would be an interesting beginning.
As we can see from the film showing at the beginning, it was called the avant-garde, a collection intervention in an art festival in Hamburg last year, we organized volunteers marching backwards within Kunsthalle and marching throughout the city. That was a metaphor of how social avant-garde and artistic avant-garde as very important presentation of Chinese art, back from 1980 till today, we have critique of Chinese avant-garde artists’ failing to transform themselves as social avant-garde. That goes back to the project history. After quite a few years, in 2002, we launched the Long March project based on our critique of utopianism and idealism and contemporary Chinese art is only traveling on one road, which east to west mostly going to biennale and museum. When this artistic avant-garde framed as social avant-garde there is a problem of dislocation, rupture, and distance of how artistic project can really create a public discourse in China, therefore we started Long March project, and invited 250 Chinese and international artists to take part in Long March, which was to travel along their historical route Long March, the red army’s journey of revolution, taking Long March as a metaphor we revisited the public space to see how the revolution as collective consciousness and memory is still a very important part of public culture and public life, and how when hundreds of artists are marching along the we are able to reexamine the history and idea of revolution and how global and local were translated in the 1930s and 1940s, and how it is connected with our current social development in China. Here are some images showing Long Marchers on the road in 2002.
There are many ways of artists participating the Long March project, you can stay in the city, working new media art, digital art, web, blog and engage with our journey, or physically be there traveling with us. Many famous Chinese artists in one way or another engage with the project, but the project was also open to the public, also thousands of students participating in the project. The whole project was designed with 20 most critical issues, from utopia to DIY (do it yourself) to gender discourse along the 6000 mile route, but again, this imagination of China form the west and China imagination of the western imagination of China is always examining through juxtaposition of images, texts and an archive we constructed as the project developed on the road each day. A very important part of the Long March agenda is how we believe a very important and revolutionary aspect of Long March is becoming another form/type of an alternative media, which can mediate between public and private, international and local, practice an theory. Such as when film screenings, workshops, symposiums, public exhibitions or rather conventional types of white cube space is occupied by the Long Marcher every day by these Long Marchers over 6000 miles. We are creating a vast space for dialogues between the public and the artists, but very often we are misunderstood as a Maoism, very idealist idea of bringing art to people. Apart from this we are also bringing ourselves to the people, to the site, to the space. By connecting the space, the historical conscious, the memory and our action we are contextualizing the art project and the work. Later on, when we brought this experience, discourse and works back to the museum space, biennale or to urban space there is this re-transformation going on, which might be able to generate an interesting and rather provocative and promising perspective looking at how art can, in our age today, can engage with social development, politics, all the issues we can mediate through the Long March project, such as translation, transmedium, urbanization, migration process, ultimately, rethink of a curatorial project or artistic individual practice and collective collaboration, can generate a rather new platform for contemporary art, taking China as a focus point, but which might connect with global situation as well. In one way, Long March is a very Chinese project, but it is also designed as an international project from the very beginning.
Originally the idea was to complete the project in half year in one journey in the designed 20 sites, but we actually only completed 12 sites and declared incomplete completion and moving the team back to Beijing. We entered from the agriculture space, we went back to the city and entered the post-industrial ruins, which is the famous 798 Factory in Beijing, we were one of the earliest organization in Beijing. And we do group shows, solo shows, project, workshops, residency, symposiums, publications, the Long March project has become one of the very unique platforms in China connecting local and global theory and practice. Today the march is still going indefinitely, but unlike we did before (daily marching on the road). We set up shows, take down shows. Today we rather spend years working on a project, say a project working with coal mining, or project working with urbanization, such this project working with the Three Gorges dam, dealing with construction and migration, so all of these massive projects spending years to do it, it is more like a metaphorical journey and marching in the discursive space, through exhibitions and education projects. So unlike before, it was a linear narrative, today we are working in multilayer multiplatform, such as going back to local every year, staying in Beijing in the center and working in the art space, but always being international. We have been working in the international, participating two to three biennale/museum exhibitions, at times can be like presentations, at times it can be projects such as Chinatown project in Yokohama, connecting with the actual Chinatown in Yokohama, but also working with different projects, connecting triennial space with China. The Long March is not limit to any media or genre, we work with digital media with very traditional media, with all different projects in different layers such as Qiu Zhijie’s mural painting and performance.
The latest project which we are doing today, which again is what the Long March project is very often being accused, which has become a very problematic project in China, where people are asking where is the art. What happened when we were invited by the New Zealand Auckland triennial, we decided to have a No-Chinatown campaign. Instead of having a selection of the coolest or best artist from China, going there presenting works in museum white cube space, we worked with Maori community, the Chinese community, the ethnic white and Caucasian community, and worked with two new Zealand artists joining the Long March project, working in the museum, creating a radio station, a campaign of no Chinatown, generating debattion over whether if there is a Chinatown, what is a Chinatown, the issues connect with political, economic, social identity and ideological issues surrounding China, Chineseness. Chinatown, as a border, a ghettoize space and a very problematic and troubled space, is very much unlike art space. Hence the architectural competition, the street demonstration, the survey, the radio station, all the project together, in a way is working to pushing boundary of artistic project in the triennial, and enter public space for discussion, so the project is still ongoing for quite a few years, there is a very serious debate generated from visual culture, from one side against the construction of Chinatown…
Ok, Lu Jie, we’ve heard enough. Can we have the prosecutors address the accused? We have invited 5 Chinese artists and 5 western artists who more or less disagree with the Long March Project.
May the first rise.
I am an art producer from London. I would like to say that while there is quite a bit of attentions seeking material in the presentation, I didn’t really hear anything about the change that the Long March Project seeks to make to the audiences that it engages with. It’s fascinating hearing about an international project which covers a lot of geographical area, but it seems to me that it is a case of one of those projects which once it happens, it’s gone and it doesn’t really leave any kind of legacy to follow-up with from the people it engages.
I think it is due to time limit to present the project, which is very often similar situation with most of us, curator and artist presenting our project when it is dislocated into different space. Originally, when the work is realized, on the site, there is a huge interactive kind of receiving and mediating of how it is displayed and receiving, which will require more time to explain. As the project always continues, there are several levels of engaging, one is the physical encounter when you are on the road, we even donated works to the people there; and the other is so that people can revisit later, but there is a huge educational program set up as par to the journey. There is an ongoing survey of the folk tradition, which has been already three years, another education program which is also three years. So this project is basically, creating a site and linkage which is not only in the physical exhibition space, but also in the discursive space, when the new Long Marcher hit on the road, it generated a huge political, social and public debate.
My name is Lauren Wright, I am a writer and curator from London. You mentioned you were interested in tapping into the kind of cultural memory and communal memory made by the initial Long March of the red army. My question is how you are actually able to understand the local character about memories. Certainly you can’t, I mean, there is a national memory, but there is a very specific local memory you are trying to tap into, you come marching in from Beijing, how can you possibly understand the local experience that you are trying to give expression to?
The best way is working with local artistic community, which is very often being framed as the less privileged one, such as the amateur or folk artist. So working with them through the survey or construct a satellite Long March space, which is still there on the road, we are able to bring in their work through the Long March, many of the folk art, such as paper cutting, it is the first time to enter into biennale space, at the same time, having our artist working in the community, creating works for them, with them, about them, very often because of the Long March Project, we did engage with the collective consciousness of the revolution and the socialist memory.
I am Sundor Domiko, editor of New … Magazine by Italy.
I have a very simple and straightforward question. My impression is that there is a very big conspiracy behind your work, and my question is that how much money you were paid by western art collectors to accomplish you so called artistic, but it seems to me that this is a counter revolutionary activity.
Apart from being accused as a counter-revolutionary, I was accused as Trotskyism, and also is money paid by western collectors, but also local Chinese collectors, and also is the project sponsored by CIA or communist party of China. But no, the project is completely supported and sponsored by artists who choose to participate, or not to participate.
My name is Zhang Peili, I am from Hangzhou. What I want to say is that from my perspective, the Long March Project is much like a work, moreover a very “symbolic” type of thing. I believe that what is most suspicious about the Long March is that it takes the form of contemporary art and separates it from its essence, and in the process of the Long March, it is primarily using the form, because the places that the Long March project has passed through are primarily poor regions, one cannot say they have any knowledge of contemporary art, as their knowledge of traditional art forms is very shallow. So, when you are trying to engage with the local public, it seems that you are mainly projecting yourself, and one-way communication. And for many things that appear that there is engagement, in reality, they are very superficial.
I think that Zhang Peili’s critic is very typical, but what is most typical about it is that it is primarily a critique raised by the academy. From our actual implementation process there is a unique opportunity for us to be educated. For example. Jiang Jie’s work where she adopts a sculptural baby, if the professors of the academy do not understand, how can it that peasants in the countryside can understand? But this sculpture was easily adopted on the road, furthermore, for over 6 years now the family has been working with Jiang Jie and sending her pictures annually. Our imagination is from a larger scale meeting and collaboration, which is Jiang Jie’s work, over 20 years, with 20 families adopting the sculpture, and acknowledging that it has a life, and of these 20 families, each year taking a family portrait for over 20 years, as a public sculpture it exists, if one were to hold an exhibition, and inviting these 20 families, you would have a very wide cross section of people from along the route of the Long March, from ethnicity to economic conditions, to politics, to visual culture and connections.
Hello, I am Lu Leiping, I am from Shanghai. I am from Shanghai. What I am suspicious about and also what I am curious about is what the actual role of the Long March. Is it a transmitter of contemporary Chinese art? What actual meaning does it have for contemporary Chinese art? Or is it only a transmitter for contemporary Chinese art in the west? The Long March Project which it has organized, what benefits does it provide? And what are its goals?
Basically one of the issues, the domain we want to engage, exactly is this separation of the local and internationally. Internationally, we are very welcome and successful, and problematic, which is very true. Locally, the same thing. Long March is the most desirable space to work with, from education, or exhibition, or curatorial project. So, the reason we are here today is to connect the international and the local, such as the project aiming to do on the road, those visual display, link the west and international and local, as the revolution itself was totally an international campaign, not a separate entity. So, my defense if very simple, why we are there today, is the same as why we are on the road, why we are on the road is the same as when we leave the road and being stationed somewhere. We are trying to transform both sides and bridge together. Therefore, the Long March is no departure, no arrival.
I am Sun Tian, I am from Shanghai. I was wondering, it seems that you learned a lot from entrepreneurial ideas, instead of utopian ideas. I feel like, the Long March for you, as a strategy, is somewhat like, road shows for entrepreneurs. For such practice, or for you, that might be called, off-site gallery practice, or mobile residency for artists, or mobile workshops for artists. By doing so, you promote all those artists and artist works. I wonder, during this process, how much more profits do you gain?
We haven’t made our balance sheet yet. For the last five years, so, you raise a very separate, binary position, which is extremely problematic in our world today, which is the separation between entrepreneur and curatorial. However, all the very successful ideologies able to conquer the world, make it possible, is in a way organizational and constructional, not necessarily deconstruction. As we can see form individual artist practice as well, or organization such as Long March, or V2, there is always a very troublesome history of an organizational structure constructing. you step of the Long March going on, similar to V2 or any other organization, you are reforming yourself, reconstructing yourself, at times you might think the commercial side is gaining more gaze or interest, at times the very idealistic side, is being framed as utopian, actually is also very constructed of an organization as well. However, there is very big difference between constructing an institution and constructing an organization.
My name is Li Zhenhua from Beijing. I have a continuous question, which is that it sounds like the Long March is such a massive project, how can it resolve its economic situation? I ask a very practical question, how does Long March balance between culture and economic, this contradiction. How can Long March continue to carry on financially?
From the beginning it was purely a curatorial project, so my family and myself sponsored all the five years. We went bankrupt. Since last year, the balance sheet has been moving towards the more positive side, but this is just not the answer. The real answer is, we are not separating what Zhenhua is asking about culture and about art. We are looking today, at how an independent organization in China today is sustainable, so therefore, the curatorial practice itself, involving with how you construct an organization moving ahead, instead of an independent project you generate funding, sponsor it, you move ahead to another organization working on a different domain and leave the problems always there. To build a constructive, developing, long-term sustainable organization I spar of the Long March discourse, similar like the communist revolution before.
Dynamic City Foundation in Beijing. I am truly disgusted, as your neighbor at 798; we have both seen the decline of the art scene there, for the last few years. I feel you accommodate the typical western “art blurb”, of which this whole charade is an example. I feel that ultimately, as you state in your introduction, the avant-garde is dead, and you killed it. I feel this is because, you institutionalize the art, and two, you have de-polticalized it. The problem is, in China, you can’t actually show your work, unless you can avoid the radar. Ultimately, this means that the Long March is a glorification of the old system.
That’s exactly the problems we always ask the artists who participate in the Long March. The curatorial project and framework and discourse are constructed to be against what you have been accusing the Long March. But artists take it as another opportunity, another show, if the setup here is practically designed as something superficial, it’s the problem of the organizations which invite the Long March. When we started the project, I was always constructed as a very, kind of ideal way to examine how, not only when communism and capitalism meet, both sides fail, but how, when curator and artist meet, we all fail. It is not a political pop art very popularly presented from China in the international art space, which the political exoticism is being presented in a very ironic, cynical way. The way we are doing, asking for failure, dream for failure, is showing how contradictional we are all today. As this setup, as this energy is bringing in, that how much we contextualize and being aware of this contradiction. How much we embrace it? And that’s the ongoing dialogue the Long March has been doing with artists.
My name is Hu Jieming, from Shanghai. I want to raise a question, which I have had for quite some time. It’s like this, when the Long March first started, I received an invitation to take part, at that time, it was a formal letter, feeling like a contract, including what methods of participation, etc. At that time, I had made a video work and planned that it would be shown in Yan’an, the last site of the Long March. My question is this, when Long March stopped half way through, and I suddenly received information that it stopped, I did not know if it was temporary, or permanent, I just felt that it was complete. Afterwards, Long March keeps appearing in different exhibitions, and my work, which was to be shown at the final site of the Long March was shown at the Lyon Biennale. So my question is this, the Long March at first seemed like something that was outside the system of contemporary art, and suddenly coming into the system. Finally, it has entered the system, my question is, if this was originally planned, or changed in the process.
It was not pre-mediated before. As the Long March developed each different period we are facing different challenges and unique. Unfortunately, a project like the Long March that is organic and unique and was unable to show your work in Yan’an. And that’s similar to like there being many project which were not planned, but appeared. So that is the risk we all take when joining the Long March. Why later on we are working more and more on being in the museum and biennale context, the Long March believes that an institution or a biennale, or even a curated show, or a thematic project itself is not a problem. In what you engage with biennale or museum or even market, is the same question not only individual artists, who also selling the work and joining the biennale, like Hu Jieming, but also a collective project like the Long March needs to engage and face it. So this is not anything new or different, ultimately it is more important to examine what we did there, for example the Auckland triennial, we didn’t bring something decontextualized to be there, we created a project on the site, by working the community and history there. So therefore, we are actually engaging with our own problem, at the very early history when we started showing in museum and biennale, we were translating what we did on the road, like Hu Jieming’s piece, we brought it into the museums. But now, we are doing less and less, therefore the Long March wouldn’t be played by artist as another venue, another show, but more as a very challenging platform that artists can work with. And not limited only to Chinese artists.
I am Margaret-Jean Mannix, co-founder of the Ludwig society and as an artist who did not succeed being invited in Beijing, and not succeed to use the Beijing underground tunnels and bunker system as a playground. I really admiring how the Long March succeeded to go through the tunnels of the western art system and art market. My question is, don’t you feel already being sentenced to the art market?
Long March fails, succeeds, fails, succeeds. So do you, so do all the others. So I take this not so much as a critique, but more as a response.
We will now perform the interrogation a bit deeper, perhaps a bit harder, and then after about 20 minutes you can either accuse or defend Lu Jie.
Lu Jie, it isn’t that hard to be sentenced to the market is it? If that’s the verdict it is okay with you, isn’t it?
Well that is the most common critique we receive from the artists, on one hand they want you to be very powerful, on the other hand they say you way too powerful, on one hand they say you have a very short history, a new organization, on the other hand, they say you are already 25 years working with contemporary Chinese art. So, accusing market is selling to the market. That’s a Long March quote.
Let’s get back to the initial project. So you used a metaphor, but you physically performed a metaphor. Trying to walk the Long March that Mao Zedong walked. You used the concept of avant-garde; the problem of course is that within the avant-garde, there is a paradox. And the paradox of course is, that you want to connect life to art, but at that very moment you want to articulate the geniality of the artist. So, the first accusation is that you were not really conscious of this paradox when you started this whole project; it was a romantic start in a sense.
It was actually very practical. Its connection with the historical Long March was kind of romantic. It was a huge endeavor, spending so much time and effort, not only individually, but also people who join in and participated, it is at times very emotional, and we can present it in a very romantic and idealistic way. But, the idea of utopia for instance, was only created as Site No.1.
There was a Shangri-la type of intention, of realizing utopia. Was that a response to the long deconstructive tendency towards the arts? Or was it a revival of something you think is still present in China but lost in the west?
For instance, there was one site that you said, about Shangri-la that traced back the British travel writing, connecting with the current construction of a local cultural tourism and these issues connect with Tibet. All this idea of a radical cultural movement, hit back to be totally taken away by the mainstream culture. Therefore, we are not there to re-enforce that type of construction, but we are also not there to deconstruct. It is a very important part of Long March, we actually problematize French intellectual visits in China in the 1970’s, we are bringing the Julia Kristeva’s Chinese women the text, Roland Barthes text and many more. The reason we are showing Goddard La Chinoise, is not to do something exotic, it is more about how those visual and textual materials created or written about China, were not able to be presented in China, and today it is possible, but people have lost the interest.
Do you believe in this utopian intention? What was the physical articulation of this utopia? Did you really try to reach something, to realize something?
Definitely, ultimately, we went back to education.
So it is an emancipatory trajectory?
Definitely, it is a very, idealistic call; it may present many projects that are very opportunistic, which is becoming a very troubled part of the Long March itself. But to bring in that very problematic project or artist work, instead of just hidden there, to work with it, is another utopia.
But the utopia failed eventually, at Luding Bridge. You had 20 sites, but you only made 12. So what made you decide to stop? Was it realized, or did you acknowledge that it was a failure.
We acknowledged an incomplete completion. We acknowledged a failure of each part, or each project, but we do not acknowledge the failure of the full initiative. We acknowledge the temporary problem, and we are more in favor of extending the temporary problem by thinking of temporality, such as a curatorial project, moving away from a curatorial project and entering the public domain.
But there is a paradox again, you wanted to enter the public domain, so art in public space, I prefer to cal it, art as public space. That’s one part of the project, but the other part of the project is a curatorial project, so take Mao Zedong as Lu Jie.
No, this is the hardest part. That’s why the Long March is always a failure.
So you declare it a failure.
Right now I am beginning to think maybe we should constantly think about what a failure is, because I failed in Lyon, the Museum of contemporary art, when I was having big debate with the museum director when we did the Long March show there, he wanted to declare the historical Long March as Mao Zedong’s Long March, therefore, he wanted to declare our Long March as Lu Jie’s Long March. I refused to use both. What is used was, “the entire generation choice of revolution ended up as Long March.” Rather than, Mao Zedong equals Long March, a very superficial political framework. Therefore, this Long March, how can it possibly be an individual’s Long March?
So it’s not your Long March. But there was something lacking while marching. In the sense you were doing your art events and in doing these events you triggered local potentialities, and you found people who were doing art without people knowing that they were doing art. But at a certain point, the art project lacks a discourse. So, did you stop because you felt an urge to go back to formulate the discourse on the Long March as a curator?
It was a constant negotiation and conflict between artist and curator. So, there is a huge energy injected by artist and some of the crew, want to make it as just the art project. And there is my resistance, supported by some artists, it should, as it was designed, go beyond visual art. So, why are we in a hurry? Exactly because we want to go to a biennale? Because we want to finish this and enter into a very careerist professional way of doing things, opening as it was written, presenting it in the best possible way, maximizing power, build up career and professionalism, and finish on the day so we can move ahead? We are obsessed with our problem, we believe that the moment we complete it, we are finished, and then we fail.
So there was the Kassel Documenta, in 1997 curated by Catherine David. And she tried to invite other people than those normally invited, b/c she wanted to change the whole way people were invited. Is there an analogy with Documenta 10?
I wouldn’t say so. I would that the curatorial research was looking at many very interesting projects that happened before, or happen at same time. There was a very interesting conversation about this project linking with Chinese representational politics back then in the year 2002. But we made a huge effort by visiting the local art community, such as the village cameraman. Apart from the project we bring with us, or create workshop or film screenings on the site, or onsite installation, we also have this identifying and connecting the Long March site locally, that kind of ongoing effort. And very often, by locating the very public artists, in the Long March way, they are public artists, but in our conventional contemporary art way, they are the folk artists, or amateur artists or traditional artists. Such as Li Tianbing, when he was 13 years old he was working as a cameraman sent by the nationalist government to take identity card photographs. So he fell in love with photography, stole his family cow and walked three days into the town, and sold the cow, and bought the camera, which he still uses today. But what is significant is that he is record holder in China for making most photographs using natural light. And these photographs are the only visual archive of the political, social, economic, religious, life. Because that village to this day there is not water, no electricity, therefore, he has developed very unique and strange way of working with photography, which some people interpreting with Walter Benjamin’s theory. He’s working there in his barn with the cows and pigs.
The most amazing thing in his archive is as the only museum, only library, only curator, the only artist, the only collector, only memory of that entire village.
First, we located him, we worked with him, then we made a first solo exhibition for him, when he is 72 year’s old. As part of Site No.1, when Long March just started. In the revolutionary utopian soviet, post office, the origin of China telecom ministry today. Then we invited him to document our journey. Then we invited him to Beijing to do a solo show in our art space there, many of the contemporary artists hate that, they think the space should be for them, then we bring him to Shanghai Biennale, and create his laboratory as part of the biennale, and document the Biennale. And we also bring him international biennale as well.
So you connected the local art with the international art in a sense?
We connected the folk the traditional, the non-contemporary with the contemporary.
But he was an exception, wasn’t he?
He is not an exception. He is one of the fifty ongoing projects. There is a sculptor who made thousands of clay sculptures of Mao Zedong. Originally using his own studio, a 2-bedroom apartment in Yan’an as a Long March site for people to visit, to talk to him, why he is obsessed with Mao and why he is doing this sculpture. Later on, we bring him to Beijing, since 2003 till today, but unfortunately, this ended up as a lawsuit, he sued a leading contemporary Chinese artist.
Mao Zedong changed the whole situation politically in China, so there must have been in choosing this metaphor, as wish, a desire in you, to make a difference in the Chinese art scene as a curator. If you look back on what you did till now, did it make a difference? Or were you completely ignored? Is it only a western curatorial project?
There are three layers to our work. One is to go beyond visual art to visual culture. Bringing visual art into the public domain, working cross disciplinary, which for most of us here is familiar with doing, but in 2002, was more like a conspiracy to kill contemporary art. So what we are aiming at is, as someone once put it, “house cleaning.” Thinking of the past by moving backwards, revisiting history, and the other way is thinking about how a project like this can contribute to the future. So I wouldn’t say we are ignored, in the way of working to do the things that artist believe is effective and powerful right away. So the house cleaning, going back and revisiting history, or the effort to go to the public, or the effort to go beyond the disciplinary, normally is not understood or received. But, when artist participate, it is very well received how we are organized, how we work professionally, how we are able to do campaign, how the Long March grew from 250 square meters to 2500 square meters. From a small organization of three people, to an organization of 14 people. At the same time, still being open to working with folk artists, traditional artists, new media artists, or even painters, or people who work with all different mediums. So, there will never be an artist or art group that totally agrees with us. That’s who we are; we are working to do the transformation. But, there will be artists who agree on case samples and how they work with us.
Is it connected to the education system? In China for instance? University or art academy, is the project known by students in China?
I think that all the works in contemporary art world are connected with education and institution, which is seriously problematic. But our issue with education institution is that they would believe, apart from the academy as a site for education, curatorial practice, together with artistic practice itself, is a very important side for education as well. So there will be this detachment, this disconnection. There will be these leading artists who are leading these institutions and organizations, but they are having difficulty defining themselves as a leading artist, at the same time, a leading educator. Therefore, for them to go outside of the institution to work together with us, with education, instead of curatorial project, is something we are dreaming for.
It hasn’t happened yet?
Hard. Therefore, we began thinking that we should do a Long March education program, with no degree, but working with Long March itself, as an educational platform, rather total art way of thinking. So artists coming to Long March educational program wouldn’t be limited to art practice, or curating or criticism or art administration, but link these things together.
I have seen the Long March exhibition many times in different biennales and my question is, I think it is very interesting about the folk art and if we think about art, and what an artist is, when they create art, it is not completely spontaneous, but consciousness, I think that this certainly is connected with very complicated life contexts and where they live. I think that is interesting and you talk about the photographer, and in terms of the art piece, it is really bringing a very strong energy. But when you put them into these biennales, and these very professional worlds, my question is how do they continue?
I think that raises a very important point. Maybe I should contextualize a little bit and introduce the project a little bit. In a northern China in a city called Yan’an, was the final destination of the historical Long March. In 1936, after the 2-year journey, they exercised themselves, cleaned up their mind and bodily experience and developed the Long March methodology. The earliest modern ballet, symphony orchestra, long fiction, theater drama, was all created through their experiments there. And even the communist idea of democracy was exercised there. That was also the place Mao declared art for the people in the very famous Yan’an forum on arts and literature and which later on was very influential for people such as Charles Harrison and Joseph Bueys. In that place Yan’an, when we are doing the Long March Project, not only did Hu Jieming want to do something in Yan’an, the final site. Most of the proposals we received wanted to do something in Yan’an. Every artist wanted the final site and arrival right away. This is one of the reasons we believe that we cannot just hit to Yan’an. Once we hit to Yan’an we believe instead, we don’t just show the art work there and pack up and get ready to show in biennale. We are exactly the opposite of what we are being imagined as and accused of. When the Long March arrived in Yan’an, we did a folk papercutting art survey, because the region is famous for its tradition of papercutting. We spent 9 months, organizing 100 volunteers, signed a contract with the county government as a collaboration to visit all 180,000 people of this county, and through this nine months of work, we collected 15,006 case studies. One side is sociological; including age, gender, economic information, political points of views, educational background, and the other side is one sample of paper-cutting. This formed the largest archive that we know of paper-cutting.
Coming back to the question, what do we do from there? We brought the archive to be featured as the major project in the Shanghai Biennale. Right away, it is moved to the Taipei biennale. So the critique is, what does this have to do with the community? Well it has a lot to do with the community. Because we did this project there, they built a highway. There is a water supply; there is this minor utopia that we are constructing. We are not able to work everywhere in China, but we were able to connect with that particular community. Because the county major and government was working with us for the successful project outcome, there are other local officials who are also looking into the cultural capital, but not in the cultural tourism type of way, that is destroying it, but cooperating with intellectuals and artists and working with them in the understanding, protecting, creating and nurturing, instead of just, work as making this into something for UNESCO. That’s the second thing we are engaging with her, it does have a very important effect on the community, because that is a very political thing we are doing here, engaging with UNESCO.
You cannot, armed by the grand narrative of our Hegelian history, work as international organization like IMF, go to the specific local community and say, your most contemporary art, your only contemporary art, that belongs to that 180,000 people is a United Nations heritage, what does heritage mean? It means dying, that type of positive discrimination, need to be taken away by giving them contemporary status, as the papercutting is the only visual power of expression for the community. So when we visited them, it is very political, for them that after Cultural Revolution until today they are totally abandoned, now, there is this nine months where people come from Beijing, Shanghai, New York working with them. And you see how hard it is to do the survey; people run away, they think you are the doing the birth control investigation disguised by art project.
So there is this other dimension as well, we are surveying the local government and policy makers there. We purposely worked with political people there, we worked with birth control bureau, we worked with the local police head, as a volunteer to do the survey, so there is lot of dialogue and transformation going on. Not only surveying the papercutting, but also surveying the governmental function. The other way is surveying ourselves, how we work with them. How curators, artists and critics work with the people. Both the governmental bureaucrats, and the survey volunteers and the people being surveyed. And there are other layers, like how they chose to be documented, how they manifest, how many of them are really authentic, how many of the papercutting examples you collect are the genre style and motif introduced from Hong Kong, as a mass production New Years corporate gift in Hong Kong. The commission order goes from Hong Kong to there, because it is cheaper in northern China. So they are not local, they are importing local, so there are many layers we are surveying there. Generally to bring awareness of the art and cultural practice there, how fetal it is, how emotional is this interest and inquiry about knowing what they are doing there is a great effort, which biennale and museum exhibition is very important, it is not the only, way, but it is important.
I guess I would like some clarification about your organizational structure and the way that you work. Because you said before that you had an argument with someone who wanted to suggest that it was solely your project, that it became your Long March. I was wondering maybe if you could have thought of more open-ended ways of organizing, that would have distributed responsibility and ownership to a more local level. Where you remove yourself from that position of chief curator, I mean in the back of your book you’re chief curator. So why have you chosen to give yourself that position of authority rather than distribute responsibility if you are afraid of being accused of this being a solo mission.
That’s actually a suggestion and not a question. I would love to do so and we are on the way of doing it. At the very early stage, we were mostly working with the Long March as volunteers, but I was the chief curator, what that means was I was the only one that gives money. If I were to have more curators, that means I would have more financial support, but I couldn’t ask more than curatorial and artistic support back then. I cannot say to my co-curator, that you cannot put money. So there is this belonging, this ownership. You create the idea, you bring the idea, the platform you assemble the team and mostly you sell your house you sell your car, you put all of your money in, therefore, it is becoming your baby. But that was year 2002; later on more and more full-time staff join, in many more collaborative institutional partnership, not only locally, but also internationally. So more and more I am more like a director, which is more administrational and less as curator, as Long March is moving into a different situation today, not a linear movement on the road, a journey, but more a journey in all different space, international, local, coal mines, agricultural society, and the art center itself, the Long March space in Beijing, is itself, a major site. There is all different project created by different curators. There will be guest curators working on different projects, and there will be project without curators at all, so I am having no control at all. And hopefully in the future, I will no longer act as director, but become a volunteer for it; I would dream we are ready to do that but not yet.
What was your vision when you started the project and did you anticipate the sort of situation that it would create today?
You mean sensation created then or today? I wouldn’t say sensation, I think that it is a journey, it works in multiple platforms. Therefore, when you assemble together, there is a sensation of the scale of the project. But when it was on one site, we are still the most marginalized one. When the papercutting project was in the Sao Paulo biennale, I would have to say we were the most marginalized one.
Why do you think you were marginalized?
Because the idea is for one year’s research to work with the African tradition of papercutting, to learn something from the mural tradition, the folk-art tradition in south America, to collaborate with them. That needs funding, that needs space, that needs institutional support and Long March is framed not necessarily as decoration, I shouldn’t say, that is not kind to the people who invited us, but we waste a whole year not able to maximize the possibility which will heal our wound and make us mature and better. Very often, like I just answered the question before, a lot of our problems are due to artists, a lot of our problems are due to ourselves, a lot of our problems, are due to media, lot of problems are due to curatorial colleagues and lots of problems due to intuitions, due to the institutions who refuse to work with us, or choose to work with us.
But do you have the impression that you aren’t being taken seriously?
No, I would have to say that we have been taken very seriously. Otherwise, Zhang Ga wouldn’t use the word ‘sensation’, but I would have to say that we begin to say yes to less and less, and begin to say no to invitations, and we begin to think and debate more thoroughly, not only internally, but also publicly, such as this moment here.
So you more or less anticipate the transformation of the project into a particular direction, because you develop more as an artistic method, as a curator. So are you going to change the method, or the substance you are dealing with? Are you going to other places?
That is way too far to answer. After 4-5 years, we cannot even unfold the issue between individual and collective. Very often, the Long March being framed as a collective, I keep saying no. Well I would love it to be a collective, but is the ideal of a collective workable today? I mean, I would say very few Chinese artists would like to say I am part of your collective. The rise of individualism is something we are celebrating. You come to a very odd moment. Therefore people think that you are exotic, you are creating a branding, entrepreneur, agent of the west, either by ideological institution or by market because you come to the wrong moment.
It is not the wrong moment when national congress had decided on private property and opening up their borders to western entrepreneurs. Then it is the right moment to drop the project in a different way.
That’s very true, but looking back at our history, we used to be “copy left”; we showed many works without permission from artists. In the new situation, again, we are going to be the one suffering from both. It is like the capitalist think that we are the agents who try to bring the new initiative to decorate the mainstream communist ideology, while the communist are thinking we are the agent of the west. But until today, the Long March efforts are still not able to locate where is the west. The question, when we ask, they always say Long March is too discursive. I want a good spotlight on my work; I want my work to be in a real white cube space.
I have to declare I am not a curator. I am one of the participating artists of the project. From the very beginning I refused to be called curator, I preferred to be called the initiator who is also an artist. Still I am framed as a curator, it is a very problematic position for me if I am the curator.
One of the things about the Chinese art currently, regardless of what sort of effects it causes on the international art market or art world, the notion of Chineseness, seems to be the ultimately selling point. And that is actually what makes it so attractive. Was the Chineseness also part of our strategy, or is it an inevitable part of your project, or is it a way for you to achieve what you want to put into your discourse.
Which Chineseness are we talking about? There are many Chineseness?
For instance, the current situation in China, I can look at it and the NO NO to Chineseness is becoming a Chineseness. We did a show called NO NO, is very Chinese by trying to maximize the possibility of not being Chinese. So I think this will be a very difficult dialogue, but there is a huge debate about Chineseness. It is only easier when the dialogue goes to how much they sell, it is easier to talk about it, but that critique will become very superficial.
The Long March narrative, and education, is a very important part of our public life, is what we must visit. And that image showing is not Chineseness construction so that we can easily sell to international biennale, museum or market. It is there, the Long March tricycle, the Long March satellite station, the Long March lock, the Long March Train train, or education. Or four-star hotel, it is all there. The political pop art very often presented in international exhibitions is rather superficial political exoticism, while to stay away and be opposite of the Chineseness, we go very political; it is a very sincere political input of the Long March. If people are lazy or totally right-wing, so moment they hear Long March they say No-no, that is another exotic Chineseness selling, that you can tell the questions you raised. I am not sure if it is sincere or just an act, a performance. After five years, people still think that you’re politics, your action is still superficial.
But for whom did you choose the name? That’s important. The question suggests, the name is chosen for the international market. But did you choose the name for the local population in order for them to identify with what you were doing. I can imagine you chose the name because it sticks in the people’s mind, but then again it is an ambivalent memory that you are triggering.
When people say it is an entrepreneur and marketing engine, I am not upset, but laugh. There are three reasons. One thing is, why Long March? Because I was asked to join the communist party in the dining hall in London. I was so arrogant, I said hey, I’m from communist China, you join me, we just quite communism, and you just invite me to join. I began to realize how much the left discourse still has impact, and I feel that there is a tradition and massive consciousness and memory and we arrogantly think we go beyond. So I said no, so the other student said, you must join it, because your communism is the wrong direction, is revisionist, and mine is the real thing. There is the moment I began to think more about why Long March as one of the very rare parts of the Chinese modernity, which is at least neutral or positive, where anything traditional is framed as positive, anything modern is framed as negative. There is this hierarchy going on that is very risky and dangerous, and we should all be aware of this. My alignment with metaphor of Long March is that, at least there is something that is not already politically, exotically framed. It is something rather idealist and utopian approach that you can work with. The second reason is when I was thinking about what type of exhibition I wanted to do, I was thinking about gender, should I do with folk art, should I do with new media, with body, when I think of all this, I think that myself would become like any of the curators, and I hate to be professional, so I begin to feel like, how can you separate, from utopia to migration to urbanization to DIY to sharing and re-distribution of resources to debate and workshop, how can you separate visual and cultural project in that way like biennale and curatorial project are doing, only way is to link them together. What would be way to link them together, going from utopia, with pilgrimage with revisit with journey, I am talking about second site, then going to Chinese context, (another site of Long March), going to DIY, gender and matriarchal society, working with Judy Chicago and 46 female artists from China. These are the 20 sites already there as the historical Long March narrative. I found out the twenty sites and the twenty subjects we are still working with in the cultural domain, so it is more Long March who chose me than me choosing Long March, so it is far away from being an entrepreneurial and marketing tool.
Even after an hour or more, I feel my original questions weren’t answered at all. And I have a number of additional questions. One which really bothered me is that, you say you are not a curator, but an artist. You say that the Long March is a platform for instance for unstable media, doesn’t’ that mean you are feeding on individual artists for your own work, for your own progression, your own egomania? Let’s be clear, that’s the same as any of us who are ambitious.
I understand where this question comes from, so that is why people choose to do more with new media, not with human, or using media as mediating material between human and human, such as you said, the curator and artists, and another way that is very popular is working with the space such as urbanization. Such as when you say, I am mapping the world, I am setting up this lab, doing things with migration, urbanization, can Beijing say no to you? I am mapping lofty idea, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, can Sao Paulo and Bangkok say no to you? To answer your question, an artist can always say no to the curatorial ego. As a matter of fact, the most digitalized work participating in the Long March in 2002 was an artist who hated the project and sent a virus every morning and I cleaned the virus every morning. It was for 3 months, and originally it was truly designed that the project would completed in 6 months, so it turned out we would continue on forever, so I wrote to the artist and asked if he would please follow the Long March forever, and went back to Beijing, and he carried on for another one month and then he vanished, he never appeared in our public life again.
Is this an answer to the accusation that you are an egomaniac that tries to use other artist for your own project.
I already said that artist can say no.
It is already quite a satisfying answer.
But let’s back to the last site. You made a decision. There is of course, a problem of a curator, I don’t know if that is narcissism, but at least it is as a director
That’s actually not true. What happened was that I was crying, at 3 in the morning, missing my family. My baby was only a few months, and my co-curator said, if you think it is too hard, then just stop. And then we began to talk about stopping, and then we began to talk about all of our internal problems, and then I call a meeting, there was a very democratic meeting, all artists and crew members and drink and had a very compete debate and we decide that we should stop there.
Did I understand correctly that you don’t ask permission of artist to show their work? But when you don’t ask permission, they don’t have a choice.
There is one side totally devoted to question of feminism in Lugu lake in western Yunnan Province. Devoted to failed dialogue of feminism, we invited Judy Chicago and a public open call for female artists in China, saying that there is going to be a dialogue with Judy Chicago in Lugu lake which is the so called matriarchal society. And that was a very difficult moment for female artist because the most successful ones decided to detach themselves from feminism, and the artists who declared themselves as feminist artists, 46 of them joined in at that site. They feel that they are not empowered because they are led by the famous female artists. That site, we did not have the right to choose any proposal. Anyone was able to participate. So there will be other sites as well, where the way of engagement is totally beyond being accepted and not being accepted. There are many projects totally beyond control. There are some projects we do not ask approval. Such as Godard La Chinoise, I think that he would love to be shown in China.
So you didn’t pay for the rights to show the film screening you mean.
No. Like Antonioni, made in the 1970’s when he was invited, was one of the very few western artists to be invited to China in the 1970’s and he made this film, and some of use might remember, but for 2 months, we used to have an onsite criticism meeting before the school start, we condemn the anti-Chinese little clown Antonioni, made him the most popular western artists in the 1970’s. We were actually criticizing the movie in China on the site, there was no movie showing. And the entire nation was doing that. Today, there is no taboo to show the film. And to criticize and appreciate it. Therefore, as we have a very important narrative as part of the Long March called western imagination of China, his material is very important as the 70’s, Godard as the 60’s, later on there was Yuri Evans’ film made in the 80’s, Dutch film maker, David Hockney in the 90’s, so there is a vast archive of materials showing. We wrote to Antonioni and we did not get any answer, so we just showed it.
How did people react in the villages, seeing those films?
They are fascinated to see students in France jump on the train wanting to join the Cultural Revolution. Again, my brief answer can be very easy to be read as something exotic. But, the huge difference is that, if you are on the road with us, it is not like a debate here finish and then go to the pub. The exhibition close move from Venice to Basel. After this discussion, looking at the film, there is dinner with the villagers, there is ongoing talk for another one week, two weeks, doing things in local church, theater performance, working with the community to help us construct the set, there is an ongoing dialogue. The conversation moves from the French imagination to the Cultural Revolution, to Christianity and modernity.
The images in the church were made by Wim Delvoye, the Belgium artist.
Still this community experience that you talk about, still has to be communicated onto another discursive level in order for this project to be something else, more than just sharing with people. So that is another level to this whole project. It is not just the legitimization of your project that you share, cultural experiences with people.
For example, there was one example of an artist doing a Long March residency in the village where we built a Long March space, he was there working with the community. The project he was doing there was unfolding the idea of ethnic origin, so through different project there he began to realize that these so called genuine Han Chinese are Mongolian, so there is this ongoing project between him and the community, the architectural and communal space, the visual culture, the icons, the linguistic difference and then the community working not only to help him, and listen, but as part often ongoing project, so they begin to make their work engaging with question of their ethics origin. So there is this very contemporary way of working with community which requires much longer time and Long March has to be one of the projects able to provide on the alternative residency. As you know, there are many residencies in China these days, but mainly in cities, and that is somewhere which is very remote community.
We heard of the many difficulties you have faced with the Long March and you have been called so many names in the past hour. Would you have started this in the beginning if you had known how many difficulties, how many names you have been called?
I have been thinking we are here as an award receiving ceremony, so if I had imagined that I would receive a night like tonight, I wouldn’t’ be more happy to do the job better.
Wait for the verdict.
You have told a lot of what you have been doing. But it is unclear to me, if you place yourself in the world of contemporary Chinese art, or the art scene in the world, how do you actually, after 50 years, when our children talk about this piece of art history and cultural history, how do you want them to perceive what you have been doing? And what Long March stands for?
That’s definitely not up to me. I am not sure what you are talking about, a fixed time, location, a fixed group of people? Sounds like a very general idea of something totally impossible, not only to Long March, to anything. To historical Long March, there is no fixed interpretation, there are multi-layer connecting a collective consciousness of why there was a revolution, are we still on the road of a new revolution, how visual art can play in this revisiting the revolution and rethinking of current revolution. And those are not possible to be answered with one fixed clear frame. I don’t’ know what people will think what we have been doing. I think people will remember that up till today, there are 300 artists, and the project has been going on for over 5 years, and still marching indefinitely. Very important events, such as Long March presentation, debates, workshop and criticism meeting which this is number 4, is a very important part of our project, we are able to learn, to confess, but first we need to celebrate manifestation moment, if you are allowed to speak. For me, the very sincere dialogue, aside from the dramatic setup here, with V2 was that it would be a very nice moment for me to receive critique from Chinese counterparts, because back in China, you wouldn’t see this opportunity, only when outside of China is it possible. We start from that angle, but then we begin to think that sort of Chinese internal debate, internal debate is going to be problematic and not contextualized in the international context. Therefore, we opened it up to international participant. I think, for me, we learned a lot, that there is this very serious dialogue, that is going on here, from Chinese participants, many of the questions wouldn’t be raised in China.
One last question. You said that the majority of artists that you work with in China, this is a group that you cannot actually have a sincere communication with because you can’t have a sincere criticism with, and you have to seek criticism outside of China, and I think that is a severe situation.
So what is the question?
The first was being sentenced to the market. In a way, you are sentenced to, we are sentenced to it as well. The modest and hope that you expressed that something changes, in China it looks like it goes in the opposite direction. So let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, and take this as the final verdict of these proceedings.
ONLY THE AVANT – GARDE
CAN BURY THE AVANT – GARDE!
As part of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival, organizer V2 Center for Unstable Media (Rotterdam), conducted a series called the ‘Evenings of …’ to which invited special guest curators and artists to design ‘a la carte’ events at which they explore the backgrounds and inner workings of their specific practice. The Long March Project was invited to ‘design’ an evening event, partly as a way of exploring aspects of its work which normally does not have an opportunity to be dealt with publicly, and partly as a way to give an opportunity to bring together different conceptual strands of interests.