The World Is Not Flat: Moving Images From Young Chinese Artists

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Bai Lei - 'Gestalt' Bai Lei - 'Gestalt'
The World Is Not Flat showcases 21 moving image works from 15 Chinese artists under the age of 40.

Its main purpose is to demonstrate the progress and evolution of moving image art over generations. Each piece is representational of its time and land, providing the viewer with an insight into contemporary Chinese art, and the featured artists have been shortlisted through China’s distinguished Art Nova 100 programme.

Exhibition curators Chen Lin and Liu Yiping answer some questions about The World Is Not Flat.

The show is a response to Thomas L. Friedman’s assertion in The World Is Flat that all countries are equal in a globalised economy; how have the ten artists in the exhibition rebutted his argument?
LY: The artists imbue their mind and logic into the moving images, creating works that are diverse and dynamic. They can be expanded limitlessly and represent the artistic epitome of our time and of our mind, demonstrating the synchronisation of the art and the era. The art, without limitation of the era, is independent from all commonness.

What other prejudiced misconceptions about the world do you think most urgently need to be broken down?
CL: I believe human civilisation is most closely linked to sex and gender. Gender discrimination or bias, as it often correlates major social issues in various arenas, political, religious, racial, etc., exerts an extensive influence for which people usually have to pay a high price. Another issue that urgently needs to be dealt with is the rights for sexual minorities, because it is the most basic rights of human kind to choose one’s own sexual identity and orientation.

Bai Qingwen FormerRiver
Bai Qingwen - 'Former River'

What are some of the emerging trends and styles in visual art and how has technology and social media influenced these trends?
CL: Visual art is becoming more diversified and boundless. With the public more accustomed to cross-media artistic creation, it is usually hard to define 'a single piece of artwork' as today’s visual art has transcended the expression of any one particular form or medium, rather, it is more often presented as a complicated system or field with various components such as visual images, materials, explanation texts, etc. While social media emerging as a new channel for contemporary artists to display and release their new artworks, some social media networks such as Instagram, live streaming platforms have even been taken by artists as the medium of creation.

How is poetic expression integrated into the exhibition?
CL: Non-sequential editing was adopted in many pieces displayed at this exhibition. Not only does it have a structure similar to that of poetry, such nonlinear expression also bears semantic ambiguity.

As a curator, what is the process when it comes to selecting the art?
LY: The reason we titled the exhibition as The World Is Not Flat is because we wanted to emphasise the independent mind of individuals, especially of the artists. In this case, we aimed to choose the works created by different ways in the category of video art, and meanwhile select the works which can represent the artists’ independent thinking. As you can see from the contents of the works, they reflect the individuals' desire, emotion, mind, and feelings, which are based on their own thoughts.

Tian Xiaolei TheCreation Vi
Tian Xiaolei - 'The Creation'

What do you think viewers will take away from this exhibition?
LY: Out of laziness or emotions driven by specific element, to some extent, people give tacit consent to the notion that the world is flat. Through presenting the works of 15 Chinese artists in the other part of the world, we tried to put small differences into the context of big differences and discuss about it. I think the insight ignited by the ultimate differences would inspire the viewers to rethink the models which are taken for granted.

Can you explain how Art Nova 100 operates and the impact it has had on emerging Chinese artists?
LY: Art Nova 100, launched in 2011, is a high-end art platform that discovers and promotes young artists. Artists are selected for this distinguished programme through expert nominations, the artists' own applications and mutual recommendations, recommendations by foundations, and a public evaluation process. There are about 2000-3000 artists applying for every year and we invite the most influential people in the art sector (curators/museum directors/artists/critics, etc.,) as the juries to select around 100 from them. The final shortlist of young artists are invited to participate in the annual art activities of Art Nova 100, which includes exhibitions and forums both in China and abroad, as well as a multi-channel artist promotion programme. Such programmes include cross-border cooperation with diversified fields, such as charity, jewellery, automobiles, real estate, design, and etc. We believe Art Nova 100 now has grown up to a open comprehensive platform, where the emerging artists could be explored and supported to develop their own careers.

The World Is Not Flat is on display at the Artspace Gallery from 15 February-19 March.

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