Three Questions

Weitian Liu

PhD Scholar in 'Advanced Practices'
Goldsmiths, University of London

Several months into his PhD studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, our Scholar Weitian Liu talks to us about the curatorial collectives and creative projects that are shaping his future research direction.


ASYMMETRY: From where do you draw ideas and inspiration for your research?

WEITIAN LIU: My research (and non-research) ideas are inspired and informed by books, journal articles, exhibitions, blog posts, movies, social media content, YouTube videos, and many other texts. These ideas, as well as questions, are also generated through conversations with friends, fellow students, colleagues, and tutors. My everyday life in the many places and worlds I inhabit - Goldsmiths, London, the internet, the art world, etc. - is an equally important source of inspiration for my research. I particularly enjoy traversing different fields of study and taking part in various study groups, that is, occasions when people come together to – as American cultural theorist Fred Moten and Scholar Stefano Harney put it – “study without an end”.

"Visit to 56a Info Shop in Elephant and Castle" – Weitian Liu. Photo: Weitian Liu.


A: How do you see your practice developing during the Asymmetry PhD Scholarship?

WL: A key question that my PhD programme ‘Advanced Practices’ grapples with is: what is practice? Dwelling on this foundational and probing question has led me to rethink and unlearn some of the assumptions that used to underpin my understanding of knowledge, study, and art. I see this process of unlearning as a significant development for my practice as a writer, editor, and curator. Several months into my PhD, I feel I’m in a position – a continually evolving position – where I’m ready to give myself permission to engage in knowledge production and cultural politics as a practitioner, unrestrained by disciplinary boundaries.

"This is me at work in my pyjamas, drawn by Cindy Huang" – Weitian Liu. Photo: Weitian Liu.


A: How is being active and engaging in curatorial collectives informing your academic work at Goldsmiths’?

The several collective projects I'm engaged in at the moment enrich my academic practice in that I'm encouraged to look at my work through a more experiential lens, moving beyond the passages of knowledge we are taught to conform to. I co-edit QILU Criticism, a Chinese website for critical discussions on contemporary art in mainland China. I see this editorial collaboration as a curatorial collective, and QILU as a curatorial project that goes beyond art criticism. Together with a group of young London-based curators, I am also behind ‘Gourd Canteen’—an initiative to explore, engage, and empower the Sinophone art community in the UK and beyond. This project seeks to bring together the community’s diverse stories and build an evolving site for active exchanges, critical discussions, and mutual care. And lastly, I’m also involved in the ‘Practices Laboratory’ which is a collective and collaborative research project of the ‘Advanced Practices’ programme. Working collectively and interdependently on these projects has raised my awareness of the importance of taking care of each other, especially in a world where the practice of such support is diminishing.

“This is a picket line in front of the main building of Goldsmiths, featuring a sign stating ‘solidarity’ in Chinese, which is also understood by my Japanese friend” – Weitian Liu. Photo: Weitian Liu.

Weitian Liu is a writer and researcher from Suzhou, China, and Asymmetry PhD Scholar in 'Advanced Practices' at Goldsmiths, University of London. He received his BA in English from Shanghai International Studies University, followed by an MLitt in Art History and an MPhil in History of Photography from the University of St Andrews. Weitian co-founded QILU Criticism, an independent online platform for critical discussions on contemporary art in mainland China. He has previously worked on the curatorial team of Life Support: Forms of Care in Art and Activism (2021), an exhibition at Glasgow Women’s Library, and is now an active organiser and member of the initiative 'Gourd Canteen', engaging and empowering the Sinophone art community in the UK and beyond.