Press Release 15 May, 2006, Beijing
Long March Project––Yan’an
Duration: May 20 – September 30, 2006
Venue: Sha’anxi, Xi’an Province
Conceived of in 1999, begun in 2002, and ongoing today, the Long March Project is a complex and multifaceted art and social project that uses visual display to reconstitute and revisit different contexts, geographies, histories, and cultures across borders and limits.
Yan’an is the last site of the 6,000 mile historical Long March route. It is a revolutionary site of the Chinese Communist Party and a laboratory for the construction of an ideal society and utopia. It is also the starting point for the new Long March. May 2006, the Long March project arrives in Yan’an. Through a dialogue between history and the present, the project examines the effects of globalization on Chinese cultural development, as well as engaging with rural experiences, general social mobilization, visual economy, sustainable society, and the construction of a visual subjectivity. Programs about to be realized on site are –
1. May 21-23, on the 64th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s “Yan’an Forum on Arts and Literature”, a discussion regarding the future of contemporary art education initiated by artist Cai Guo-Qiang and organized by the Long March Project was launched at the historical site of the “Kangda” University (Anti-Japanese University). The Forum seeks to develop a discussion regarding contemporary art education in China from different historical, geographical and cultural perspectives. Over 30 art educators and scholars from China and internationally took part in the forum, bringing together different views regarding the current state of art education, as well as searching for new possibilities. Yan’an is only a starting point; the project will continue onward with other forums, summary, discussion and revision.
2. The paper-cutting art education proposal for local primary schools as well as art teacher training program summarized on the basis of local site experience.
3. The Long March arrival in Yan’an precipitated the participation of 30 Chinese and international artists. Through local investigations and site visits, artists used personal or collective experiences to enter into the larger historical context, creating new examinations of history and the present, and bringing artistic creation back to social realities. What is the responsibility of art within the current social development of China? Painting, video, sculpture, installation, performance and archival works by Chinese and international artists were exhibited at the Yan’an “Kangda” Hotel, 11 cave dwellings at the former site of the Yan’an University, a Catholic Church which served as the historical site of the Lu Xun Art Academy, and other public sites throughout the city of Yan’an.
4. The site-visit program inviting 6 artists including Feng Mengbo, Liang Yue, Miao Xiaochun, Shi Jinsong, Yu Hong and Zhong Biao.
The project is supported by Rockefeller Foundation Asian Cultural Association, Annie Wong Leung Kit Wah Art Foudation and Ullens Foundation.
Site Introduction of Yan’an Project
The Sites of Art Education Forum
The Cave Dwellings at historical site of Yan’an College
Yan’an historical site of Lu Xun Art Academy (Catholic Church )
The Kangda hotel is located in Erdao Street in the city of Yan’an, the former historical site of the “Chinese People’s anti-Japanese Army and Politics University”. The hotel belongs to the supervision committee of Yan’an Revolutionary Memorial Museum.
In June of 1936, what was originally the Northwest Red Army University was expanded into the Chinese People Anti-Japanese Red Army University. On January 19, 1947, the college renamed Chinese People’s anti-Japanese Army and Politics University and moved to Erdao Street in Yan’an, following the relocation of the Chinese Communist Party central committee to Yan’an from Wayaobao.
In January of 1937, the Chinese People’s anti-Japanese Army and Politics University (Kang Da for short) was established in Yan’an. Mao Zedong was named the chairman of educational committee and Lin Biao was appointed dean of the university. During the course of the 8 year anti-Japanese War, “Kangda” cultivated and trained more than 200 thousand cadres, becoming a model for revolutionary colleges during that period.
The Long March organized “Yan’an Forum on Arts Education” was held on the 6th floor of the Kangda Hotel. Artists works were also shown throughout public space and meeting halls in the hotel.
In July of 1941, the central Party decided to combine the Mao Zedong Young Cadre School (established May 1940), the College of Chinese Women (established July 1939) and the Sha’anbei Public University (established October 1937) together to form Yan’an University.
The college was divided into the school of social science, school of law, school of education, Russian department, English department, physical education department and middle school department. Over 800 students were enrolled in the university. The college is located in Wangjiaping, on the site of former Women’s College. It is the first Red (communist party) university in China.
The 200 cave dwellings remaining today were once student dormitories and classrooms. Ten of these cave dwellings from block 5 were converted into a “Long March – Yan’an Project” exhibition space for contemporary art.
Shortly after the project, the cave dwellings will be renovated and recognized as a historical site, turning this base of education and patriotism into another tourist destination.
Five miles northeast of the city of Yan’an in the village of Qiaoergou is a Catholic church and 10 cave dwellings. In 1939, the site was converted into the “Lu Xun Art Academy”, the first communist art academy in China.
The university had played a great role in the history of revolution and had far reaching effect on the Chinese modern culture and art, earning it the moniker of a ‘palace of new culture and art’. A Catholic church resides on the art academy site. Built in 1933 by a Spanish priest, today the church houses the dance department of the Lu Xun Art Academy of the Yan’an University. Within the Catholic church the Long March – Yan’an Project held an exhibition of foreign artists.