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Between Tradition and Subculture —Eight Artists in China
Eight artists in Beijing. A photographer from Berlin. A closeup view of how artists live in China. In a country ruled by a virtually perfect totalitarian system, artists have an especially seminal role to play. Most forsake material prosperity and security in pursuit of their artistic passion; many take an ambivalent view of the vision of beauty enshrined by traditional Chinese art. Poverty and the fear of political repression often closely circumscribe the ambit of their work. Yet these eight have managed to stake out spaces in which they hatch individual creative projects between subjective and subcultural ideals, Chinese traditions, and their country’s contemporary turbocapitalist development. The photographer Stefanie Schweiger has lived in Beijing since 2012. After creating numerous reportages for Die Zeit, ZeitMagazin, and other international media, she launched her own project chicken are not naked in early 2014. For over a year she has shadowed artists to create an intimate photographic portrait of their lives. The Chinese contemporary arts scene has grown steadily since the 1980s and is now a wellestablished part of the international art world. Large sums of money circulate in the Chinese art market, and the state, which has an interest in its continuing growth, builds major museums and subsidizes cultural institutions. However, these structures often fail to nourish the subcultural art production. So Schweiger’s project is also meant to highlight the fact that it exists —a subculture apart from the country’s "mainstream." It lays out a nuanced panorama of China’s diverse arts scene —much of which is virtually unknown in the West —and people’s views of society in a country in which individuality is still a contentious political issue.
Artists / Künstler: Bian Yuan, Boer, Dong Dong, Gao Ping, Gaoyan Jinzi, Li Binyuan, Liu Dong Hong, Zhai Yongmin