The Eighth Huayu Youth Award Exhibition: A Long Hello
UCCA hosts this year’s edition of the Huayu Youth Award, showcasing the diverse practices of emerging artists in China and supporting the continued development of Chinese contemporary art.
From December 12, 2020, to February 10, 2021, UCCA and the Huayu Youth Award present “The Eighth Huayu Youth Award Exhibition: A Long Hello,” featuring artworks by the fifteen finalists for the 2020 Huayu Youth Award. The shortlisted artists are Chen Dandizi (b. 1990, Hezhou, Guangxi province), Hu Wei (b. 1989, Dalian, China), Jin Ya’nan (b. 1986, Hangzhou); Yong Xiang Li (b. 1991, Changsha, China), Liu Guoqiang (b. 1988, Shandong province), Liu Yu (b. 1985, Taichung), Lo Lai Lai Natalie (b. 1983, Hong Kong); Ni Hao (b. 1989, Hsinchu), Peng Zuqiang (b. 1992, Changsha, China), Wing Po So (b. 1985, Hong Kong), Su Yu Hsin (b. 1989, Taichung), Su Yu-Xin (b. 1991, Hualien), Joey Xia (b. 1992, Hangzhou), Zhao Qian (b. 1990, Jiangxi province), and Zheng Yuan (b. 1988, Lanzhou, China). This year’s Grand Prize and Special Prize winners will be announced on the evening of December 12, following a visit to the exhibition and closed-door deliberation by the prize jury. The 2020 jury panel is chaired by UCCA Director Philip Tinari, with other members including artist Cao Fei, OCAT Xi’an Executive Director Karen Smith, artist Liu Wei, and scholar, curator, and Fudan University School of Philosophy researcher Lu Mingjun.
The artists featured in the exhibition represent both a break from and continuity with previous modes of art making. While today’s artists inevitably still respond to issues that their predecessors tackled, such as modernity, post-colonialism, and globality, they are less interested in clear-cut, black-and-white analysis within the disciplines defined by these topics. Many young artists in China situate themselves inside networks of knowledge and technology, rather than viewing the world as an object external to themselves. Certain issues that the previous generation of artists obsessed over, such as inequalities between East and West, have to some degree evaporated thanks to the level playing field created by the spread of knowledge and technology. The emerging artists in this exhibition have the confidence to tackle topics far away from their immediate surroundings without apprehension.
In the process of dialogue with the wider world, others, and themselves, the shortlisted artists actively explore how to translate new perspectives, media, and ways of thinking into vital artworks. Their diverse creative practices offer new ways to understand the future of Chinese contemporary art and its many possibilities. The fifteen finalists for this year’s prize enjoy confronting and analyzing the structures of knowledge and technology, placing themselves in conversation with these systems. They are highly educated, and sometimes take on roles that more closely resemble those of writers and researchers than that of the conventional artist. In both research and presentation, they demonstrate an investigative approach that often aspires to create an encyclopedic genealogy of their subjects. Some are fascinated by the research process itself, delving into the many topics that interest them and doing in-depth studies from surprising angles. Others are less drawn to the minutiae of specific subjects, and more willing to break boundaries to build grand narratives. At the same time, in contrast to universal myths that emphasize the importance of an artist’s character and personality, they hide themselves within highly speculative work, underemphasizing intuition and individuality, sometimes even turning away from individual self-expression. Instead, their focus is the object as observed by the subject, rather than the self as the subject of the artist.
As such, these artists’ working methods seem to be poised at a critical point—a point at which they establish a connection with the world, yet maintain their distance, keeping an outsider’s perspective. At exactly the right moment, they halt any attempt to engage in superfluous dialogue, and deliberately avoid entering into set intellectual frameworks. Maintaining critical distance and a requisite sense of uncanny strangeness, from an ambiguous position the artists extend a sustained, continuous greeting out to the world: a long hello.
To accompany the exhibition, on December 12 and 13, 2020, UCCA will host the fifth edition of the Huayu Art Forum, entitled “More Than a Word: How Another Form of Life is Possible.” Organized by Du Keke, editor of artforum.com.cn, the forum brings together academics, curators, and other art professionals to discuss the past year and some of the most pressing issues facing the art community. First held in 2016, previous installments of the event have explored themes including the role of art in wider society, the value of local case studies, and how art, history, and politics interact with each other. During the exhibition period, UCCA will also present three special discussions, with the shortlisted artists sharing video works and exchanging ideas to shine more light on the thinking and contexts that inform their artistic practices.