We are pleased to announce the 5th international action art festival Guangzhou Live, which will take place from December 1-7 at the YouYou Contemporary Art Centre in the art district of Xiaozhou cun. Known today as one of Asia’s major action art festivals, it has as its vocation to bring some of the most qualified artists in the field to Canton and China. Each year Guangzhou Live presents an eclectic and diverse program of highest quality with artists from different generations, representing various styles in contemporary action art from China and abroad.
This year GL 5 presents 26 action artists from France, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, USA, Finland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Germany, Korea, Slovakia and of course China. All comes with the intention to stimulate our imagination and make us explore their work. This leap into the unknown, into a new land of visual thoughts and feelings, where poetic images, emotional discoveries and mindblowing thoughts are so tangible, is what distinguishes Guangzhou Live from traditional art exhibitions.
However, Guangzhou Live is also a meeting point between the artists and a passionate and massive audience. It is also one of the events trademarks, that we do not want to exclude people or make anyone feel that is just for a chosen few. No, at Guangzhou Live we stimulate true encounters, where people and artists meet to chat or discuss, have a drink, with never endings smiles. Guangzhou Live is an example of how contemporary art is capable to reach out to everyone. Creating a bridge between the experimental art and the society at large, with its main intention to make the avant-garde popular.
It is an example of how an interest in avant-garde art can be stimulated, and more important, sustained, through time and a continuous renewal. As such Guangzhou Live has given birth to a direct and human proximity and exchange between the artists and its audience of villagers, university students, art students, children, mothers, elderly as well as blue and white collar workers. Some elitists might laugh at our will to reach out with art to everyone, but we, we do take it serious. It is one of the festivals foundations.
It is also, if anything where Guangzhou Live makes a difference, and is different in an innovating way. We do not separate people in categories, we do not wish to have an audience with exclusively academic background. No we want peasants, blue and white collar workers, mothers, children, elderly to come to our event. To have a mixed audience, is important for us. Because we do not believe that anyone understands the art works better than any other. Everybody can understand.
Being a bridge between the people and experimental art, Guangzhou Live sustains furthermore a link between different cultures, countries, generations as well as between artists from China and overseas. As such it is a bridge, built on friendship and understanding. On simple relationships - on a human scale.
Guangzhou Live presents three lectures by the artists Xiao Lu, Yingmei Duan and Jiri Suruvka in collaboration with the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts December 1-2.
The First Time – Lecture by the Chinese artist Xiao Lu at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. December 1 2014. Hour and venue to be announced. 7 pm.
You Too ! – Performance-lecture by the Chinese artist Yingmei Duan at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. December 2 2014. Hour and venue to be announced. 7 pm.
Male and Me – A lecture on being a male peformance artist by Professor Jiri Suruvka, Art Academy of Ostrava at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. December 2 2014. 8.00 pm.
As the theme of this years Guangzhou Live, Gender Dialogue, will be highlighted as an issue on gender relationships in the art world. Guangzhou Live has as its stated objective to promote a gender equal program, and also artists working with feminist issues.
Guangzhou Live 5 will also have two public discussions on the theme with some of the artist from China and abroad. Highlightning issues like : Does a true gender dialogue exist in the art world exist ? Is gender dialogue a sustained issue or irrelevant ? How does male artists look at feminist art ? How does the common ground for this dialogue look like ?
Guangzhou Live showcases performance art specifically realized in the public space that belongs to all of us. We are all using it daily, and as everyone have access to it, it is a place to which we all belong in one sense or another regardless of social background, gender, education or for that matter economic situtation. It is our common ground.
For all these reasons public space is an open place that through its existence can be used to promote a cultural democracy where everyone can be given access to contemporary art. This is what we are doing in an ideological will to give everyone the possibility to experience the liberating qualities inherent in performance art.
Welcome to discover the works at Common Ground which will take place on the square in front of Xiaozhou cun’s Li Tang and around the market hall.
Sunday December 7. 10:00-12:00 am. This specific event will showcase the artists invited to Guangzhou Live.
Bridges and Pathways is a showcase of the work of art students participating in the three-day workshop Working Out-Working In from November 29 to December 1. The workshop is a new collaboration between Guangzhou Live and the Royal College of Art, London. It is directed by Nigel Rolfe, Professor at the Royal College of Art, London. This outstanding British Art College brings five Master students to Guangzhou to participate in the workshop in a dialogue of exchange with students from Chinese art academies.
Saturday December 6, 10 – 12 am.
Bridges & Pathways are generously supported by the Royal College of Art, London.
Vision and continuity are both key in the artistic program of Guangzhou Live. In a continous research to find new artists and expressions of action art that meets up to its standard of quality, Guangzhou Live’s curator, has as a principle to find artists that are not only established, mid-career or emergent, but who renews themselves and takes risks with their own creation.
Following this concept, we will in this 5th edition present some renown Chinese action artists like Xiao Lu who rised to international fame for her work Dialogue in Beijing in 1989 and who since then have continued to explore new ways and ideas in action art. Or for that matter well established artists like Li Xiaomin and Feng Weidong who both have a long experience in the field. Three renown artists from the famous East Village in Beijing in the 90’s have also accepted the invitation to come to Guangzhou Live : Cang Xin, Yingmei Duan and Zhang Binbin. All three participated in the now legendary work ”Add One Meter To An Anonymous Mountain” and have since then developed their own and very different expressions with great success. Besides these well known Chinese artists, Guangzhou Live has as its mission to give the possibility to showcase talented artists of a younger generation, and are as such pleased to present the work of Tong Wenmin and Zhang Yunfeng.
The international section of Guangzhou Live is not less exciting than the Chinese. From the Czech Republic comes two masters in action art Jiri Suruvka and Frantisek Kowolowski who with their breathtaking humour always bring performance art to ever new levels. Humour of the absurd and audience participation are also ingredients in the work of the two French artists Loïc Connanski and Patrick Jambon, who in two very different ways expresses themselves in a universal way.
There are of course many more established artists like Jozsef Juhasz from Slovakia who always creates work that makes us explore new thoughts and emotions. Or for that matter the legendary Irish artist NIgel Rolfe, who comes to Guangzhou Live for the third time. From Switzerland we will present artists that we only can imagine what they will do, exciting, invigorating and creative with different expressions that we are sure will connect with the audience, in the work of Anne Rochat, Ursula Scherrer and Nino Baumgartner. Two artists from the Netherlands have also accepted to join Guangzhou Live this year, Anet van de Elzen and Monali Meher, both with a international experience in action art. Another artist is the German Verena Vyselka who we are sure will develop a poetic visuality where quality is present. Another mid-career artist is Jodie Lynkechoow from the USA, who with Jamaican and Chinese origins, will speak to all of us in the universal way that only life experience can bring. Or for that matter the three artists from Scandinavia, the subtle performance-poet Mauritz Tistelö, the visually absurd Katri Kainulainen from Finland or the infatiguable dreams of Stein Henningsen from Norway.
LI Xinmo. 2008.
”I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”
To tell someone you love, why you love her or him, is not easy. Even more difficult is to say for the first time the magic words : I love you ! And it should be difficult. It requires courage because it always includes a risk. To open-up yourself, to be emotional, with the possibility to encounter a rejection. To fail. It is the same thing with action art. The artist does not know before if he or she will succeed. If the people who experience it will like the work, or if it at all will communicate with them. It is a risk.
For an action artists it is about to take risks. To do something that she or he doesn’t know will be a success or a failure. The painter in the studio, the sculptor, the photographer or the video artist can hide or throw their work if it is bad. In action art this is not possible. It is an art form where everything happens in front of us, in real time. And it is not rehearsed like in theater or dance. It is there, live and it is real. It takes courage. Just like love.
When you think about it, art and love have many things in common. Like love, art is completely subjective. The person you love is beautiful to you, but maybe not to others. Which of course has no significance - to you. It is not their love that is important, only yours. Yes, the qualities you find in the person you love will hardly be seen by others. And in this sense art is like love.
Of course, we can all see when someone is attractive, someone who is beautiful according to a standard image of beauty. But there is a difference between visual beauty and the beauty of love. Someone who is handsome is not necessarily beautiful in a profound sense. Beauty is something which we feel, and it does not only include a visual aspect. But much much more. It comes from within. Small things that one discover with time, through experience and even imagination. I know many people who are not that visually handsome, who do not possess the standard image of beauty, they can even be visually unattractive. But they can be beautiful because of their humour, intelligence, imagination and sometimes because of their actions.
Everyone can see and remember visual beauty, but beauty of love is so much more. It is about life, about experience, about knowing, understanding, and especially about feeling. It is profound, and not superficial. It is not an image, it is something real. It is human. If love is beautiful in itself, it is because it is something universal, something that everyone have experienced, that everyone knows the feeling of. Furthermore, when you are in love, you usually don’t know why. You can not explain it. In this sense love is similar to action art.
It is this beauty that I search for in art. A beauty that makes me feel more profound, that makes me question myself, the world and my life, that makes me understand things better, and that makes me love others. Making me feel that I still have a body and a mind, that I have emotions, and that I like to share them. An art that is not superficial, that is not simply a surface, that is not only money or fame. That is not only hanging on a wall to look at. I do find this in action art. Of course not in every art work. But when it is good, it can make me tremble, it can make me feel things I can’t explain, make me understand more. Sometimes it can even make me cry. It can touch me without me knowing why. I can only feel it, without having to understand everything. Just like with love.
When we are in love, we don’t ask what it means. We only live it, experience it, feel it. This is also true for action art, you can not always explain what you feel, and you don’t need to. Of course, you can ask yourself questions of why ? What does it mean, why am I in love with this person. What are the qualities in this art work that makes me tremble and think.
Also, just like love art is profoundly equal.Love comes to everyone. It does not make a difference between ordinary people and specialists, academics or peasants, women or men, rich or poor. Like with love, art is there for anyone to live, explore and experience ! Art is something that we can never fully grasp, or get the full meaning of, that questions us, that comforts us, that makes us try to become better humans. Does it sound idealistic ? Well, it probably is. And I am not scared to say that I am an idealist. Because if we lose our ideals, our wishes and our thoughts, our feelings and our dreams, I believe we have lost art and more importantly we have lost ourselves. We have lost love.
What is the function of love ? What is the purpose of art ? I do not want to answer these questions but would like you to think about them as to find your own answer. To explore and feel what these questions really mean for you. You will find your own answer and of course I will find mine. And our different answers are all valid, despite the differences. And these differences are important for ourselves indvidually but also as a collective. Just like in love and in art. Our differences in what we find beautiful is the strength that makes love and art so much more interesting, so much more challenging and influential in our own lives. It is important to let all flowers bloom.
It would be boring if there were no differences in our own appreciation of love or of art. And art or love or life for that matter should not be boring. It should give us something more profound, make us laugh or for that matter think, tremble or engage us in a dialogue with the other.
Guangzhou Live have since its start had the intention to give everyone the possibility to see and experience the work of artists from China and abroad. To give access to the most experimental creation in the field of action art. We do hope that some art works that you will experience and explore at Guangzhou Live will touch you. That you will find a beauty in them. Not only visual, but of every other aspect of humour, intelligence or humanity. Something that speaks to you about your own experiences and maybe even about your own life.
Guangzhou Live wants to show a the diversity of action art, to present different artists who represent different tendencies in contemporary action art. Guangzhou Live also tries to reach out to everyone, to show the liberating aspects that is inherent in action art. Creating a bridge between experimental art and the society at large, with its main intention to present the avant-garde to the people. To make the avant-garde popular.
Guangzhou Live is in this sense not just another art festival, but an example of how an interest in experimental art can be stimulated, and more importantly, sustained, through time and a continuous renewal. As such Guangzhou Live has given birth to a direct and human proximity and exchange between the artists and its audience of villagers, university students, art students, children, mothers, elderly as well as blue and white collar workers. Guangzhou Live wants to reach out with art to everyone, and we do take it serious. It is one of the festivals foundations.
It is also, if anything where Guangzhou Live makes a difference, and is different in an innovating way. We do not separate people in categories, we do not wish to have an audience exclusively with an academic background. No we want to reach out to everyone, to the people. And it is important to us. Because no one understands art better than any other. Everybody can understand and feel, think and imagine. Just as we all can love. Love and art are eternal. Art and love can make a difference in our lives.
Guangzhou Live 5 volunteer team is made up of 24 graduate, undergraduate students and teachers from Sun Yat-sen University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Jianan University, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, South China Normal University, South China Agricultural University, and others. This team that makes Guangzhou Live 5 happen in all its different aspects is divided into different groups like the Translation Group who are responsible for all tasks involving interpretation or written translation, the Material Group who are responsible for the artist materials and assisting the artists in the realization of their work. We also have the Documentation Group who are responsible for the production of the documentation of the art works during Guangzhou Live. Last but not least we have the Media Group who is responsible to attract news media to cover the festival and for all contacts in relation to the festival.