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Cui Cancan

Cui Cancan Born in 1987, Cui Cancan graduated from Nanjing University of the Arts in 2008. He is an active critic and the curator for the FUCKOFF II Exhibition (2013) and Heiqiao Night Away (2013) . He is also the guest observer of dOCUMENTA (13) under the invitation of the city of Kassel.

Jury's Statement

2013 The jury of CCAA decided to give a special mention to CUI Cancan as a protagonist of a new generation of writers in China for his proposal “Rebuilding Order in the All-Round Confrontation: New Methods in Chinese Contemporary Art after 2008.”

Art criticism and art movements are inseparable. In this sense, CUI comments on new methods in Chinese contemporary art after 2008 when politics and society pushed many artists into self-making and self-organization. In his view, in post-Olympic China, this tendency leads to the rise in number of group movements. Though each one is unique, these groups share common features. They put emphasis on participation and collaboration; decisions are taken quickly, without red tape, through open structures that overturn hierarchies. This may often lead to confrontation with the outside: According to him, confrontation itself may be the new order.  

Rebuilding Order in the All-Round Confrontation: New Methods in Chinese Contemporary Art after 2008



Art criticism and art movements are inseparable. The orientation in art research is essentially determined by developments in art movements. The year 2008 could be taken as a watershed moment marking a new period for this relationship: on the one hand, the social and political discourse in China did not go through fundamental changes after the 2008 Olympic Games, and art’s relationship with politics and society continued a period of continual tension and interaction; on the other hand, with the ups and downs of the global economy, and the appearance of capitalist discourse and an art authority system, art becomes increasingly institutionalized, and is challenged as an autonomous, participatory, and critical means of expression and communication.

With these restrictions and prohibitions, Chinese contemporary art is inevitably pushed to the social arena, facilitating artists’ tendency of self-making, self-movement, and artistic practice. Art begins to derail from its original track of theoretical space (artist studio, gallery, and art museum, etc), developing from the aesthetic regulation, communicative objectification, and institutionalized art space of the museums to an extension into social space. It tries to break away from the fixed space and fixed time of art production in art museums, walking into the streets, communities, and wastelands that originally lied outside the art system. Meanwhile, what art tries to express is not the form itself, but the social nature of the form and how it is communicated and understood. Such a process and its results are highlighted in Chinese contemporary art space after 2008.

It is the first time in Chinese history that Chinese contemporary artists stand against the formidable art system to rebel against its challenging of individual cultural identity, against totalitarian politics’ pressure on individual basic rights and living environment, and against centric capitalism’s consumerist tendency dominating cultural taste and way of life. While the diverse discourses are being challenged, artists’ identity and art institutions’ traditional nature are also being challenged in the pursuit of new identities. Reaction, confrontation, organization, action, interaction, re-reaction, and re-confrontation form a cycle in Chinese contemporary art after 2008. An artist, a piece of work, an incident, an exhibition, and an activity parallel one another and interact with each other. The “art” at a specific location and in a specific context produces numerous new manners and acquires the ambition of reengaging with the future. All isolated art actions or individual actions are integrated into one organic cultural scene, unfolding on all fronts including society, history, culture, and politics.

Table of Contents and Materials

1. Political Intervention and Social Events

Ai Weiwei’ s Arrest

Ai Weiwei’s Financial Trouble

The Demolition of Suojia Village International Arts Camp

“Warm Winter” Plan, Tian’anmen Square Incident and Wu Yuren’s arrest

Documentaries of the Ai Weiwei Studio (“Ximei” “Ping'an Yueqing” “Laoma Tihua” “A Lonely Person”, etc.)

Ai Weiwei’s Citizen Survey(Such as the name list of child victims of the Wenchuan earthquake)

The Closure of Li Xianting’s Film Academy

8G Fire(fire on July 25th where 73 artworks are destroyed or damaged)

Hua Weihua’s Arrest for Releasing Flies at the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Arts

Performance Art on Chaobaihe River, Songzhuang(Cheng Li, Zhui Hun, etc.)

“Fuck Off 2” Art Exhibition

2. Experimental Space and Temporary Structure

Arrow Factory(Initiator: Wang Wei; Curator: Yao Jiashan)

Organhaus Art Space(Initiator: Yang Shu; Curator: Ni Kun)

We Said, Let There Be Space: And There Was Space(Initiator: He Chi, Cai Dongdong, Yan Bing, Zhu Dianqun; Curator: Dai Zhuoqun, Kang Xueru)

Xiong Huang Group(Initiator: Wu Hai, Guo Haiqiang, He Chi)

Gland(Initiator: Guo Hongwei)

Zaospace(Initiator: Qin Ga, Gao Feng, Li Songhua)

Video Bureau(Initiator: Fang Lu and other artists)

BizArt Space(Initiator and Curator: Biljana, Xu Zhen)

HMFF(Initiator: Gao Lei, Sheng Jianfeng)

Caochangdi Art Space No. 305(Initiator: Zhao Zhao)

Store & Space(Initiator: Xu Tan)

3. Self-making and Self-movement

Heiqiao Night Away

Wuhan Donghu Project

Auction Biennial

Chongqing 8mgGroup

“Shooting the Bird” Plan

Diaodui’s “Sleeping in the Temple”

Home Shop

Art Party

The Unconcerned Group

Double Fly Art Center

The Harmonious Baroque

Nanshan Painting Group

Shanghai Express Delivery Exhibition

No Survivor Group

SEE / SAW: Collective Practice in China Now

4. Autonomous Region and the Ideal Utopia

Beicun Experimental Factory

The Art Autonomous Area of The Thirteenth People’s Hospital of Chongqing

Heiqiao Village and Blue House

Little Community of Song Zhuang Art Center

Museum of Unknown

Huangbianzhan and Art Education

Kun Shan Art Praxis space

Big Philosopher Project

Book Club

5. Social Movement and Remaking the Countryside

Baimiao Village Construction Plan

Bishan Project

Shjiezi Museum and Shijiezi Village of Gansu

Xiaozhou Village Art Plan of Guangzhou

Dragon Fountain Plan of Caochangdi Art Space

Civilization Serial Exhibition(Yulin, Shanxi and Lixian, Henan)

6. The Spread of New Media and the Internet Age

Floor #2 Press(“Xia Jianqiang’s Painting Collection”)

Artbaba Forum

Heyshehui Forum

“Jingye” Megazine

Audio Interview

Ai Weiwei on Chinese Blog, YouTuBe and Twitter

The Rise of Sina Microblog

Communication and Interaction on WeChat

Internet Criticism and Anonymous Writing

Guangzhou Borges Libreria

7. City Carnival and Interdisciplinary Intervention

Shanghai Street Graffiti

Beijing Flash Mob

The Eighth Day Science Workshop

Zhao Bandi’s Movie

Guangdong Physiological Experiment Group

The Green School

Yellow Ants Art Lab Project

Ai Weiwei’s Music Album

Significance of the book:

“Rebuilding Order in the All-Round Confrontation: New Methods in Chinese Contemporary Art after 2008” reflects the orientation of Chinese contemporary art practice after 2008. Without doubt, it heralds new ways of looking at art in Chinese contemporary art research. It tries to record the live, active, and confused scene of art, contributing to future studies and analysis of what is happening right now. Building on analysis, judgment, and understanding of these new ways, this book portrays the social, cultural, and political panorama of China so that we could position ourselves, change our understanding of ourselves and others, and better initiate change in the social space. Furthermore, studies on this new way could also apply to understanding China’s status in the global scene, and inspiring other regions in the common context of globalization and foster information sharing. In such a confused and magical world, how should art rebel and engage in the process of rebuilding social orders? What is its complexity? What are the possibilities? This book provides an answer that confrontation itself is a kind of new order. This complicated and promising order is the most forceful way for art to engage and interact with Chinese reality.