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On the afternoon of November 15, 2016, the 2016 CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Award and the 10th Artist Award announced that “Best Artist”, “Best Young Artist” and “Outstanding Achievement” were awarded to the artists Cao Fei, He Xiangyu and Xu Bing.

It opened on the occasion of the third CAFAM Biennial was held at the CAFA Art Museum, the biennale is themed “Negotiating Space”, with a new experiment and attempt conducted in the organizational model and operational mechanism, neither a curator, nor selecting works by the recommendation and nomination, the use of the mode of “collection of program – open negotiating – textual display – presentation of work” to unfold the discussion and presentation of the exhibition. However, it is more difficult to select the works of artists with this mode. Based on the common thinking, co-organized by the CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Award and the CAFA Art Museum, the 6th “CCAA-CAFA Joint Forum” was held on the day of the awards – “How Do Art Museum Choose Artists – Chinese Art Institutions Collecting Non-Native Art and Foreign Art Institutions Collecting Chinese Art”, discussing different standards of art, especially the non-local art exhibitions and collections, between the Chinese and Western art museums.

Among the participating honored guests of the forum of the 2016 CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Award for the 10th Artist Award, they include Bernard Blistène, Director of Center Pompidou, France, Chris Dercon, Honorary Curator of the Tate Modern, UK, Suhanya Raffel, a curator of Hong Kong M +, and also the curators that are active in the art scene at home and abroad, such as Feng Boyi, Peng De, Yin Jinan, in addition to President of CAFA Fan Di’an, Director of CAFA Art Museum Wang Huangsheng, and the forum which was presided over by the Chairman of the jury of CCAA Liu Li Anna.

Fan Di’an: The Collection of Art Museum Should Focus on Cultural Exchange and Acknowledge

At the beginning of the forum, President of CAFA Fan Di’an first delivered a speech. He said that the theme of the forum “How Do Art Museum Choose Artists allowed us looking at the artist’s contribution to the times from a different perspective, or we could say it regarded the value of artists from the perspectives of choosing, collecting, researching and promoting.

At present, we are both aware of the rapid development of global trend, and the overall trend of contemporary art under different cultural backgrounds, formed by mutually leveraging and mutually promoting between contemporary art and global trend. “If we regard artists and their creations as the cultural resource, it seems that we raise another question that whether these resources are balanced in the global spatial distribution? Or are the distribution of artistic resources, the flowing and the produced effects balanced? Fan pointed out that today’s art museum collection was neither for appropriation nor showing off ones wealth, an art museum collected the art, especially contemporary art, should focus on cultural exchanges and knowledge, focusing on the formation of a shared value in different regions, nations, cultural development. Fan Di’an, President of CAFA, finally concluded that, “It is a new task for art museums to discuss the global distribution and destiny of art resources in such an opportunity today.”

How Do Western Art Institutions Collect Chinese Contemporary Art?

Unlike other Western art institutions, the Hong Kong M + is a special art museum with a very rich collection of contemporary Chinese art, the Director Suhanya Raffel said that, “Our collection focuses more on the practice of contemporary Chinese artists, the existing collections cover both the clue of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970s to the present.” Another difference is that M + does not only study the art itself, but also goes deep into the developing clue of a phenomenon, the way of presentation, art education, and how to be related to the public. Raffel said that, after entered the 21st century, the contemporary art collection was not only about the location, but also more about the media…

Bernard Blistène, Director of Center Pompidou, France first talked about the connection between France and Chinese contemporary art – started from a large number of Chinese artists and intellectuals began their studies in France in the 1930s, and they became the communication “bridge” between Chinese and French cultures. “Chinese artists have given us an opportunity to re-examine the system in the collection and also give us another opportunity to penetrate into art history”, Bernard said that, “The most important thing is that it avoids simplifying the collection into similar things.” It is impossible to try displaying all the works of art from across the world, what is the standard? For Bernard, the most important criterion is “the meaning of how to question art history itself.” Center Pompidou will establish a stronghold in Shanghai, China, aiming to deepening its ties with China. When he was asked how to build the museum collection, Bernard replied with three key words: “It is historical, complex, and subjective.”

The collection of Tate Modern, UK does not focus on the “nationality” of an art, and it particularly rarely uses the “nation” to classify the name and type of an exhibition, but placing the perspective on the artist’s personal work and research. Chinese artist Chen Zhen was one of the earliest artists to collaborate with Tate, and Chris said that he received a lot of knowledge about contemporary Chinese art in the exchange with Chen Zhen; Bernard also agreed with him and he believed that the simple international labeling was actually a dangerous step backward, people should focus on the individual and the individual research.

As one of the most important collectors of contemporary art in China, Uli Sigg had a different view. In his view, although Western institutions have some researches on the collection of Chinese contemporary art, but they do not have much impressive initiatives, “I know that Chris himself has always supported the study of Chinese contemporary art, but Tate’s own distribution of resources for contemporary Chinese art research is not particularly plentiful.” In addition, Uli Sigg pointed out that Western art institutions did not independently study Chinese contemporary art, but tended to seek the same internationally influential groups engaged in the research of Chinese art, and came into contact with the same artists, which makes a great deal of homogenized Chinese contemporary art existing in the international arena.

The Relationship between the Collection of Western Art by Chinese Art Museums and the Context of Local Art    

Chinese art museums started collection later than the West, what is the situation of its collection? On this issue, Fan Di’an said with a smile that the collection of local art by Chinese art museums was still unfinished, still less the collection of non-native art. Fan pointed out that, “Because in the discussion of ‘modernity’, the modern Chinese art or the modern process of Chinese art could not find the attribution of value, which resulted in an ignored status of Chinese art over the hundred years.

For the previously discussed “would like to discuss the Chinese artists rather than the vague and general Chinese art” phenomenon, Fan Di’an believed that overseas artists had a dual identity, they constituted the important phenomenon of world’s art development, and also an important part of Chinese contemporary art, because their identities, backgrounds had never left, and it was impossible to leave the Chinese cultural background. Fan Di’an said that, “Today’s Chinese art is very diverse, and I appreciate through individual artists to explore some topics of universal nature.”

How do Chinese art museums collect non-native art? Director of CAFA Art Museum Wang Huangsheng said that, different from the way to study individual artists, the art museum chose to collect those key, node-oriented and tie-in artists in the aspect of non-native art collection, “using the minority to bring along the majority”, thus to extend to non-native art research. Curator Feng Boyi started from his own working experience to talk about it was difficult for the domestic art museums to borrow collections for exhibitions.

Just as the art standard of art museum system is a complex subject. In a different historical and realistic background, different art museums have different standards of art selection. Especially in the context of globalization, it is more difficult to explore the selection criteria for exhibitions and collections of non-local art, with a different historical context, in the multiple-context of globalization. However, in the process of globalized exhibitions, exchanges and collections of contemporary art being increasingly dense, the controversy caused by this issue has become more and more remarkable. It hopes that such dialogue can offer more inspirations.

Text by Lin Jiabin, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Photo by Yang Yanyuan/CAFA ART INFO

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