The largest international new media exhibition ever presented in China is entitled NEW AGE: NEW MEDIA and was launched on 21 April by CHINA ART PROJECTS and China Digital Art Association. A public academic forum has invited visiting Australian artists and Chinese artists to talk about their creations before the launch declared by Dr Geoff Raby, the Australian Ambassador to China at the Art Museum, CAFA.
This exciting and innovative cross-cultural project features 12 outstanding artists from China and Australia, which is also a major event highlighting the Imagine Australia program celebrating the Year of Australian Culture in China. It brings together exciting ideas from a whole range of art experiences reflecting current social environments. It provides opportunities for visitors to see innovative exhibitions in capital cities and provincial centers across China – Beijing, Jinan, Hangzhou, Chongqing and Lhasa. From June to December this year, the entire exhibition will also feature as a highlight of the reciprocal Year of China in Australia in the following Australian cities – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston.
Curated and managed by Reg Newitt, this project can be regarded as a collaborative venture between China Art Projects, Digital Art China and International Digital Art/Queensland University of Technology. It takes a broad interpretation of ‘social environments’ as the curatorial idea under-pinning the selection of artworks. The video and digital works address a range of personal and social issues – self-reflection; marginalised and displaced groups; values and beliefs; gender; the environment; social conflicts and social values. Moving, humorous and revealing, the social and personal histories intersect and question stereotypes of both Australia and China. The artists reveal a real diversity in the way they explore the concept of social environments, in particular the relationships between the values, beliefs and behaviours of people and the environments in which they live and work.
In the forum, Wang Boqiao has emphasized that “screen” which is fully involved in the media of public culture does change our daily lives. Therefore this exhibition will deliberately use unusual sites such as square, airport, etc. to display the exhibits to break the gap between the elite technology and the public, so that it can be understood and loved by ordinary people. Zhang Xiaotao has shared his creative experience and thinking process with the audience. His work “Sa-skya” is mainly derived from his explorations into Tibet. Curator Sara Jones from Australia introduced the creations in China and Australia in the hope that through this touring exhibition of “new age” that exchanges and communications between artists from China and Australia could be promoted. Curator of CAFAM, Wang Chunchen added that we should not adhere to the concept of “New Media” and the key lay in the searching for new vision and techniques to express the inner being as well as rendering the social issues of this new age. This forum was concluded by Australian artist Jess MacNeil’s speech. She briefly introduced her representative works such as “Opera House Steps: December”, “The Wall” and “The Swimmers”. She pointed out that her series was closely related to her personal growth as well as her long-standing interest in relations of space. During their discussions after the speeches, Reg Newitt who works as Australian curator and moderator of this forum proposed similarities and differences between artists from China and Australia. Wang Boqiao believed that there was no essential difference between them since they both created from their personal life experiences. While from the level of artistic practice, Wang Chunchen revealed that media artists in China focused on technology compared with Australian artists who prefer more diverse creative ways using the traditional methods of photograph and post-processing. In the end, both the artists and audience enjoyed this direct communication on new media in this new age.
Australia: Grant Stevens, Jess MacNeil, James Newitt, Richard Bell, Merilyn Fairskye, The Kingpins
China: Bu Hua, TseKal/YakTseTen, Miao Xiaocun, Zhang Xiaotao, Shen Shaomin, Han Bing
Exhibition curators: Reg Newitt, Wang Boqiao
China: Central Academy of Fine Arts; Songzhuang Art Museum (BJ); Art Hangzhou Expo; Art Yard, Lhasa; Jinan Art Exhibition Centre; Sichuan Fine Art Academy, Chongqing
Australia: ArtsTas Gallery (Hobart); UTAS (Hobart & Launceston); Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane); Federation Square (Melbourne); ChinaLink Gallery, Sydney
Exhibition dates: April – June 2011 (China); June – August 2011 (Australia)
View the Chinese version of this article here