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Armory Week #1: Interview with Armory Commissioned Artist Xu Zhen, The Armory Show's Focus on China
by ArtSlant Team

From Realism to Radicalism

Iona Whittaker speaks with Focus: China curator Philip Tinari about contemporary Chinese art at The Armory Show.

The first Armory Show in 1913 introduced European avant-garde painting and sculpture to the American public. Roughly a century later the New York fair has chosen contemporary works from China to be its focus. Sixteen galleries will travel to New York from Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong next week and about half of them will be bringing the work of a young generation.

This year’s curator for the Focus section is Philip Tinari. Formerly the Chief Editor of LEAP magazine, Tinari is currently Director of the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA), a non-profit organisation in Beijing. For Tinari, the shared commercial nature of exhibitions in China and his curatorial effort at the Armory is not irrelevant. On navigating the combined terrain of culture and commerce, Tinari explains, “in a fair you are putting the artists on show, but also the galleries, and by extension the whole system for contemporary art in China. You feel you have some kind of honesty in reflecting the vibrant scene on the ground in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong now. That was what really drew me to the project.”

Tinari sees the opportunity to feature Chinese galleries at the Armory in terms of time and context. For him, the most interesting aspect of this exhibition format “is that people go and are there in real time… and are able to see the work in a way that doesn’t happen as quickly in other channels.”...  

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Though Xu Zhen came of age in an environment where ostensibly shocking artistic actions were somewhat standard, his art still stands out as particularly extreme. In 2009, the Shanghainese conceptual artist dissolved his individual practice and founded “MadeIn,” a company that would produce all his art going forward. This year, The Armory Show’s selection committee commissioned Xu Zhen, who had never been to New York, to to conceive and execute a branding strategy for the 2014 fair. In the lead up to this major Armory commission, ArtSlant correspondent Vivian Xu spoke with the artist about commercialism, Madeln, and the legacy of Chinese art...

Vivian Xu: In 2009, you dissolved your individual practice to form the “contemporary art creation company” MadeIn. What was the motivation behind MadeIn?

Xu Zhen: Today, art is a commodity. What I am interested in is "making products into art." A company, from the perspective of its function and approach, can enrich this process.

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The ArtSlant Armory Week Fair Guide:

  The Armory Show
  ADAA The Art Show

  Volta NY
  Fountain Art Fair
  Spring Break Art Fair
  Moving Image

With more event highlights and details added daily...

Bruno Pogačnik Wukodrakula, PowerCave, 2014, installation, Curated by Yulia Topchiy; Courtesy of the artist. At SPRING/BREAK Art Show.

Jessica Warboys, Sea Painting, Dunwich, 2013, Pigments on canvas, 650 x 330 cm; Photo: Stuartt Whipps; Courtesy of the artist and Gaudel de Stampa, Paris. At Independent.

David Hanes, Aware No. 266 (URL), 2013, Dye-sublimation print, polyester nylon, wood, nails, glue; Courtesy of the artist and Birch Contemporary, Toronto. At SCOPE New York.

Aiko Hachisuka, Sugar Mates, 2013, Silkscreen on clothing and foam, 57 x 46 x 46 inches (144 x 116 x 116cm); Courtesy of the artist and Eleven Rivington, New York. At The Armory Show, Pier 94.



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Posted by ArtSlant Team on 2/27/14

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