The Beijing 798 Biennale
will bring the works of more than 70 artists to China's capital, focusing on video, photography, installation, performance, audio, site-specific works, and other new art forms. Starting with an opening reception on August 15 and running through September 12, 2009, the biennale will assert Beijing's position as an international art capital.
"The Beijing 798 Biennale is primarily about redefinition," says Curatorial Director Marc Hungerbühler, founder of New York City's the:artist:network. "It redefines Beijing as a catapult for trans-cultural movements and is structured from the bottom up, starting with the artist and the curator, rather than the museum or institution."
The Beijing 798 Biennale is organized without funding from the Chinese government or the backing of a major museum, and two-thirds of the participating artists will be international. The biennale's theme, Constellations, stems from the notion that stars in a constellation are often vastly distant from each other, but they appear close to one another from the perspective of Earth.
"Viewing it from the outside, the exhibition is a space in which a group of people are traveling. Everyone gravitates to the places they are most interested in," explains Artistic Director Zhu Qi, a prominent Beijing art critic and editor of Art Map magazine. "While seeing it from the inside, one sees that people form a community among others with similar views and idealsregardless of whether they live in the same geographical location. The internet and an unrestricted art community provide possibilities for this."
Located in the northeast of Beijing, the 798 Art Zone was formerly an East Germandesigned factory producing electronics. By the late 1990s, the factory was abandoned, leaving an opening for artists and galleries to fill the vast industrial spaces in the early part of this decade. In just a few years, the area transformed from a dusty outpost for art pioneers into the international tourist attraction it is today, with trendy cafes squeezing in next to increasingly prestigious galleries. The biennale offers an opportunity to define the future of the district.
During the biennale, international scholars, curators, artists, heads of art organizations, and representatives from China will participate in a series of public symposiums and art forums. The biennale publication will be a special issue of Art Map, bilingual in English and Chinese.
In addition to a central exhibition featuring Chinese and international artists, there will be several satellite shows. German artist Martin Wehmer curates Annexe/Infix, an exhibition of abstract paintings from the German-speaking world. Chile-based duo nicoykaytushka put together Turn on, Tune in, Drop out, featuring Latin American art. New York-based curator Raúl Zamundio presents The Man Who Fell to Earth, a group of sound and visual works. New Yorkbased Alexandra Loewenstein and Jaishri Abichandani curate Transitional Aesthetics, a show of female artists of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent.
706 will be the central exhibition space, and the satellite venues will include the SZ Art Center, T Space Gallery, Linda Gallery, Yan Club Arts Center, and With Space Gallery. The 798 Construction Committee serves as the main organizer.