Weitian Liu

PhD Scholar,
Goldsmiths, University of London

The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, 2013. Photo: Severin Stalder; Creative Commons CC BY 3.0.

As part of a series of reflections by our Fellows, we have partnered with ArtReview to publish a collection of writings that will explore and unlock the future of curatorial practice. Here, our PhD Scholar Weitian Liu considers the overlooked crossovers between Chinese and Western art practices, tracing the critical discourses shaping the asymmetrical landscape of the global art world today.

"A curious situation arises: while Chinese artists continue to be present and active on the global stage, ‘Chinese contemporary art’ has become an anachronistic category devoid of generative and transformative potentials. At issue, therefore, is not a physical or logistical barrier to artistic exchange between China and the West, but rather an asymmetrical relationship that amounts to an enlarged blind spot obfuscating the presence of crossovers.
Traces of such crossovers abound, both in the recent past and in the present. For instance, the various methods that artists working in China have devised to sustain and support themselves in a highly corporatised, poorly funded and heavily censored art ecosystem can be productively linked to the prevailing anxiety felt by artists working in the thick of the Western neoliberal condition. New forms of artist collectives and practices of commoning that have been taking place in the West during recent years of austerity resonate with tactics of self-organisation and self-instigation among Chinese artists. Concurrently, issues like mutual aid and care have come to the fore in artistic and curatorial practices in both Western and Chinese contexts.
Such crossovers, however, remain largely overlooked within the asymmetrical landscape of the global artworld, both in terms of market forces and critical discourses, that we inhabit today. And we do not have a working framework – nor infrastructure – for addressing these crossovers even when their traces become manifest. To point out the asymmetry at this moment is not about nostalgia for the heyday of postcolonial curatorial practices whose legacy, particularly with regards to China, has yet to be critically appraised. What is needed is a renewed cultural politics that calls into question new forms of exclusion and enclosure to which the artworld has become acclimatised in the present."

To read Weitian's full article, click here or to discover more about his current curatorial projects and inititatives, visit Gourd Cateen.