The Harmonious Society Workshop London

Long Live the Great Union
Image courtesy of artist: Yang Zhengzhong, Long Live the Great Union, 2011

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in partnership with King’s College London

The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, in partnership with Kings College London, presents the final in a series of workshops led by International artists and UK based curators to discuss key themes to be explored in the upcoming Harmonious Society programme (part of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014. This informal discussion will draw on the experiences of curating and practicing internationally to address issues including, amongst others, translation and cultural exchange. The evening will provide an insight into the upcoming largest exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art in the UK, Harmonious Society. In attendance will be speakers at the forefront of Chinese contemporary art curating including:

Jiang Jiehong, lead curator of the Harmonious Society exhibition and Professor of Chinese Art at Birmingham City University;

Jonathan Watkins, Director of IKON Gallery;

Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator of Hayward Gallery;

Ying Tan, curator at CFCCA and co-curator of Harmonious Society;

Ying Kwok, artist and co-curator of Harmonious Society (Hong Kong/UK);

 Yu-Ling Chou Assistant Curator in Residence, CFCCA (Taiwan/UK);

Baby Art copy
Image courtesy of artist:: Nie Zhengjie, 2012 winner of the Liverpool John Moores Painting Prize China, currently at CFCCA

Harmonious Society – September 27th until November 23rd

Harmonious Society is a key strand of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 (ATM14).  It is the largest exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art in the UK to date featuring all new commissions or UK premieres.

Over 30 dynamic artists – including major figures such as China’s Zhang Peili, Taiwan’s Chen Chieh-Jen and Hong Kong’s Leung Chi Wo – have been invited to show work for the first time in the UK or to develop new work in response to this era of unprecedented social, ideological and cultural transformation through their individual memories, personal reflections and imaginations

The exhibition takes place across six key spaces in Manchester: ArtWork, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, John Rylands Library, Manchester Cathedral, Museum of Science & Industry and the National Football Museum.

The current socio-economic vision presented by the government of mainland China, seemingly presents ‘no conflict’ but rather, almost poetically, 天下無事, a ‘Harmonious Society’. Simultaneously our era has been characterised as increasingly destabilised and challenging, transformed in the early years of the 21st century in terms of space, identity and communication. Artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan investigate their own socio-political situations, responding alongside artists from mainland China, to the produce the Harmonious Society exhibition.

The curatorial team is led by Jiang Jiehong, Professor of Chinese Art at Birmingham City University and a former curator of Guangzhou Triennial, supported by co-curators Ying Kwok, Ying Tan, Chou Yu-Ling and Paul Stanley (CFCCA) and Lindsay Taylor (University of Salford).

Artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, including major figures such as China’s Zhang Peili, Taiwan’s Chen Chieh-Jen and Hong Kong’s Leung Chi Wo, have been invited to show work for the first time in the UK or to develop new work in response to this era of unprecedented social, ideological and cultural transformation through their individual memories, personal reflections and imaginations.

Realm of Reverberations, still, 2014
Image courtesy of artist: Chen Chieh-Jen, Realm of Reverberations, 2014, still

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) (formerly Chinese Arts Centre) is leading the UK in exploring a changing international dynamic. Investigating the most exciting contemporary work coming out of China and East Asia today, CFCCA works with a wide array of partners to embrace a global century where Chinese art is moving firmly centre-stage. This is the Chinese century and the UK is culturally, as well as economically, a long way from understanding what this means for the global creative community and its audiences. Contemporary art in China and East Asia is a dynamic force, fast gaining momentum, simultaneously driven by and questioning market forces. CFFCA are leading the sector in encouraging broader engagement with Chinese contemporary art and visual culture through a lively and innovative programme of exhibitions, residencies, engagement projects, festivals, international projects and events. With a proud 27-year history of “first” UK solo exhibitions, featuring exceptional artists that go on to achieve international acclaim, CFCCA is uniquely placed to provide people with dynamic experiences of innovative Chinese contemporary art.

King’s College London

King’s College London is the fourth oldest university in the UK, and a leading international centre for study and research based in the heart of London. Ranked amongst the top 20 universities in the world in 2013, King’s has distinguished departments in humanities, law, sciences and health and its 26000 students benefit from world class teaching and cutting edge research.


Jiang Jiehong

Dr Jiehong Jiang is currently the Professor of Chinese Art at Birmingham City University. In 2007, he founded the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at the University. As a visiting professor he currently delivers the annual short course of Research Method for doctoral studies at China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. His current research interests and expertise include curating, Chinese contemporary art, design and visual culture.

Jiang is Lead Curator for the delivery of CFCCA’s exhibition programme for Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, Harmonious Society. Jiang is also currently working on a book project, An Era without Memory: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation, to be published by Thames and Hudson (London) in 2015. Previous curatorial projects include the delivery of the fourth Guangzhou Triennial in 2012, in which Jiang worked alongside Jonathan Watkins of IKON Gallery, Birmingham. It’s title, The Unseen, a simple term with easy access, was a point of departure for a vast range of possible meanings that touched on the complex of ways of seeing, blindness and envisaging, especially with respect to visual art.

 Jonathan Watkins

Jonathan Watkins has been Director of Ikon Gallery since 1999.  Previously he worked for a number of years in London, as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995).

He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney (1998), Facts of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art (Hayward Gallery, London 2001), Quotidiana (Castello di Rivoli, Turin 1999, Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007), Negotiations (Today Art Museum, Beijing 2010) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012). He was on the curatorial team for Europarte (Venice Biennale, 1997), Milano Europa 2000, (Palazzo di Triennale, Milan 2000), and Riwaq (Palestinian Biennial 2007). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2013.

Jonathan Watkins has written extensively on contemporary art. Recent essays by him have focused on the work of Giuseppe Penone, Martin Creed, Semyon Faibisovich, Yang Zhenzhong, Noguchi Rika, Caro Niederer, Beat Streuli and Cornelia Parker. He was the author of the Phaidon monograph on Japanese artist On Kawara.

Stephanie Rosenthal

Stephanie Rosenthal joined the Hayward Gallery as Chief Curator in December 2007, having previously worked at the Haus der Kunst in Munich for more than 10 years, where she was appointed curator for modern and contemporary art in 2000 and curated: Haim Steinbach – North East South West (1999), Aernout Mik – Dispersions (2004) and Allan Kaprow_Art as life (2006), amongst others. She also curated the acclaimed exhibition Paul McCarthy. LaLa Land Parody Paradise which toured to the Whitechapel Gallery in 2005. Rosenthal wrote her doctoral thesis on ‘The Colours Black in the New York School: Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella and Mark Rothko’ and she curated a show on the subject entitled Black Paintings. She has curated the Robin Rhode exhibition Who Saw Who at the Hayward Gallery for autumn 2008, Walking in my mind (summer 2009), which explored the inner workings of the artist’s imagination through the medium of large-scale installation art; Move: Choreographing you a show about the relationship between visual art and dance (2010); Pipilotti Rist: Eyeball Massage (2011); and Art of Change: New Directions from China (2012).

She has recently curated Ana Mendieta: Traces, the first retrospective of the artist’s work in the UK, and Dayanita Singh: Go Away Closer. She was also one of three curators realising the national section of the first Biennial in Cartagena, Colombia, in spring 2014.

Ying Tan

Ying Tan is an independent curator with a concern for negotiating sites of cultural specificity in her practice. Her work aims to examine the generation of creative output through forming chains of dialogue amongst a wide range of artistic practices, including video, dance and sound. She is influenced by her upbringing in mainland China and researches the country’s rapid transition between traditional and contemporary artistic forms. Residing in the UK since 2005, upon finishing her MA at the University of Cambridge Ying has curated numerous projects in CFCCA and offsite projects in London and internationally including The Floating Cinema Open Air Weekender Central in partnership with UP Projects, London; The Voice Currency, with Beatrice Leanza; Urban Farmers, Nie Zhengjie’s first UK solo exhibition; Cao Fei’s – Haze & Fog, a co-commission between CFCCA and University of Salford; Caro at Correr; Plaza San Marco, Venice Bienniale; Towards Common Ground, Clapham Common, London and Toward the Border, Roundhouse, London.

Ying Kwok 

Ying Kwok is an artist and curator who has worked in Hong Kong, China and the UK for the last 13 years. Having graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2000, with the Chevening Postgraduate Scholarship by British Council, Kwok Ying obtained her master degree from the Chelsea College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London, UK in 2004.

As the curator of the Chinese Arts Centre (now Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art) in Manchester  between 2006 and 2012 she had responsibility for the centre’s artistic direction,  delivered four exhibitions every year, accompanied by related talks and events, and also oversaw the artist residency programme.

To encourage critical thinking and initiating effective discussions around the values of art in Hong Kong, Kwok founded Collector Club in 2013. Kwok has also served as a member of the board of trustees of Grizedale Arts and a committee member of the Chinese Film Forum UK. She also founded the artist collective, “Association”, with two UK-based artists in 2009 to explore the “boundaries of collaboration”, which has always been an important part of her curatorial approach.

Yu Ling Chou

Chou Yu-Ling is currently the assistant curator in residence at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. In 2009 she was assistant curator of Chen Chieh-Jen’s exhibition Empire’s Borders-Western Enterprises Inc. at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester. In 2010 she co-curated Plug in x Add on: Taiwanese Contemporary Art with +8 at the Rag Factory, London. Apart from curatorial practice she also writes extensively on contemporary art in Taiwan and China, in 2013 she received the Third Yishu Award for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art. Chou Yu-ling is currently a PhD candidate at the London Consortium, writing on Chen Chieh-jen and archival culture in Taiwan. Her research interests cover moving images, archival theory, artists’ films and visual culture. During her PhD study she also co-organised Friday Night Salon in 2013 with Emily Williams and Yu Wei at Tate Modern, which provided platforms for postgraduate and early career researchers of contemporary Chinese/Taiwanese art and a forum for discussion of cutting edge research.

Tickets: This is a free event, but reservations should be made in advance here

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