Archive for April 9th, 2007

A fake Conversation

Monday, April 9th, 2007

The following two quotes are taken from the March 2007 edition of Art in America, to which I have responded.

Richard Vine: Before the market explosion, critics like Li Xianting and independent curators like Fei Dawei, Feng Boyi and Gu Zhenqing played vital roles in identifying – or inventing – significant movements and highlighting the work of selected artists. What has become of those functions today? Does intellectual validation still matter, or has criticism become primarily work done for hire?

Christopher Phillips: As is the case in many places where contemporary art institutions are in their infancy, art-community members in China inevitably wear many hats. Someone who is an artist may also be writing critics, organizing museum exhibitions, running a commercial gallery, advising foreign collectors on a commission basis and teaching in an art academy. There is only a grudging awareness that these overlapping roles might involve conflicts of interests. All this will probably change as the Chinese art world becomes more professionalized in the coming decades. Nevertheless, at the moment enormous temptations are presented by the flood of money that’s rushing around in the Chinese art scene, and I think that very few curators now refrain from privately buying and selling works.

Shi Li: I don’t see why an Artist cannot also be critic, curator, collector, dealer or whatever they want to be at the same time. Especially, among today’s international art practice, it does not surprise me if one plays different roles in his or her life. In terms of becoming a ‘professionalised’, it seems to me one will be more likely to restrict oneself from accessing other interacted fields. ‘Conflicts of interests’ may occur, such as a scholar may be distracted from teaching by putting too much effort of curating exhibitions – however, theory and practise are good to be preformed at the same time. This is similar to why a good course in a university should be combined with a lab. Another example could be more serious than arranging one’s schedule, which is about the evaluation of a piece of art. This concerns one’s morality towards art, as one may argue that a curator may select artworks by their prices, or artists may produce their art by the whims of the art market. However, Chinese contemporary art environment may have its own function and system depending on its own situation. Perhaps, what the Chinese contemporary art needs is not a judgement but encouragement and advice.