A specially-created interactive digital archive forms the backbone of the exhibition. It aims to locate current Chinese performance and installation practices within a broader context of artistic production and exhibition-making in China. Comprised of a sequence of some 130 key events, exhibitions and performances as well as images, and expert commentary, it traces the development of installation and performance art in China from 1979 to the present day.
The archive highlights the intellectual and cultural importance of these artforms in the emergence of the avant-garde in China, which gave rise to radical, process-driven art that demanded new forms of engagement from the public. The social and political context that engendered these types of practices is particularly relevant here – as official systems refused to acknowledge installation and performances (and even aimed to censor it), artists were forced define their own strategies for escaping the constraints of governing authorities. They have very often done this in a humourous and ironic way.
The archive is available for browsing or for in-depth study and can be accessed on both floors of the Hayward Gallery.
Hayward Gallery, London in collaboration with Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Centre for Contemporary East-Asian Cultural Studies, University of Nottingham; and DSL Collection, Paris.