London's farewell to China's media artists included a tour of a Guangzhou "normal school," the term for regular universities that teach science, humanities, and other mind-fillers.

Population in China: 1,200,000,000
Found media artists:            35

If art in China interests you, take a look at these books:

  • Another Long March: Chinese Conceptual Art, 1997
    (Amsterdam, Fundament Foundation, 1997)

  • China - Aktuelles aus 15 ateliers
    (Munich, 1996)

  • In and Out: Contemporary Chinese Art from China and Australia
    (Singapore, Lasalle-SIA College of Arts, 1996)

  • Platform 1: 10 Young Modern Artists from Asia and Latin America
    (Amsterdam, Canvas Foundation, 1997)

  • Uncertain Pleasure: Chinese Artists in the 1990s
    (Hong Kong, Art Beatus Gallery, 1997)

London wondered why this school exhibits cutting-edge media artists.   The art teachers at the normal school hang out in mildly chaotic surroundings reminiscent of lounges in art schools back home. In a look around the studios, London politely praised the teacher and student artwork. Their medium, mostly traditional paint on canvas, is not her bailiwick.

The school is not at all extraordinary, and that is what made the setting so unusual. Other art meetings, whether fun or dull, were strained. An uninvited audience, the art police, seemed to monitor the interviews. If not actually present (some of the artists might be plants), the "right thinking" brigade might at any moment intervene and put an end to these dispatches. Surely at a later date, bureaucrats would finely comb what the artists had said, and impose corrective discipline.   It's a first for London in China - an easy-going art scene

The normal school was out of the loop, a backwater for art. Engineering, physics, mathematics -- these are the faculties that counted, and they ran the school. They had no time for the political intrigues of the art establishment.

They wanted information.   Fifteen artists, teachers at the school and their friends who exhibit in the school gallery, joined London in the cafeteria for a final feast. They wanted to know about Bill Viola's early work, Gary Hill's finances, art on the internet, Documenta, the recent Kwangju exhibition. A couple of artists, who had been to Documenta, faulted the retrospective slant of the show. They were interested in what's happening now, not a curator's opinion about where art has been the last fifty years. They desire to be part of the current worldwide art scene.

They are eager to see, to learn, to be world class artists. A few of them are.



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