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Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990

Collected by: Asia Art Archive

Archived since: Jan, 2016


Despite the unusual speed with which contemporary art has developed in China over the last 25 years, a comprehensive independent archiving platform has yet to exist. Though these years have produced an abundance of art, and with it an abundance of documentary materials, many of the most important art publications and critical writings, especially those from the 1980s, are difficult to find. A lack of any systematic collection and organization of documentary information has meant that materials exist sporadically among individuals, primarily the artists and curators active in contemporary Chinese art in recent decades.

Asia Art Archive believes it is important to locate and preserve these materials to acknowledge the history of contemporary art in China and to facilitate future research and critical writing. As an organization dedicated to collecting and documenting materials relating to contemporary Asian art, AAA has undertaken the project Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990.

Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990 has four components:

1) The first is an urgent drive to preserve and make accessible valuable material from the 1980s. AAA has been collecting periodicals, newspaper clippings, photographs, video recordings, exhibition catalogues, invitations, correspondence and other materials that relate to the development of contemporary art in China during this decade. It has acquired hundreds of texts published in the 1980s and digitized the personal archives of renowned artists and curators, resulting in a total of over 70,000 digital documents. Much of this material is available on-site at AAA’s library in Hong Kong, where all are welcome to visit. 2) To complement existing material, AAA has conducted in-depth interviews with over 75 key individuals from the contemporary Chinese art world of the 1980s, including artists, critics and curators. Unedited versions of these interviews are accessible on-site at AAA in Hong Kong and selected excerpts online at the project’s website. 3) AAA has used footage from 14 interviews to create a 50-minute documentary film about experimental art in South China (Guangdong) in the 1980s entitled From Jean-Paul Sartre to Teresa Teng: Cantonese Contemporary Art in the 1980s. This special documentary captures the unique perspectives of many of those involved during this seminal time. 4) And finally, the project culminates in a comprehensive bilingual (Chinese/English) website, which presents the most significant material gathered for the project. With its chronologies, bibliographies and links to other resources in the field, the website aims to become the most important publicly accessible resource for this creative period in Chinese art history.

Subject:   Arts & Humanities Universities & Libraries

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