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ZURICH CHINATOWN

Xu Zhen and Miao Ying at Art Basel

To appreciate young artists in China today, one needs to consider the innovative work of Xu Zhen and his major contribution to China`s placement in the global art world. Born in 1977 in Shanghai, Xu Zhen is a leading figure among the young generation of Chinese artists. An irreverent artist with a voracious appetite for global information and a unique ability to produce work across multiple platforms and media. He has become the key figure of the Shanghai art scene and a foundational figure for the generations of Chinese artists born since 1980.

In 2009 he founded the “contemporary art creation company” MadeIn Company which reflected lingering concerns of an artist participating in the international art world while remaining deeply skeptical of it and its conventions, most immediately the label “Chinese contemporary art.” Xu Zhen’s artworks probe the various mediations that corrupt the viewer’s experience of an artwork, particularly in observing a culture that is not one’s own. Watch the following video to see the power of visual artists.

Xu Zhen presented Casino Night at Art Basel’s Unlimited. Six classic table games—roulette and baccarat, to be specific—fill the booth. But instead of felt, their surfaces are covered with ephemeral sand mandalas made using the techniques of Tibetan Buddhist monks. Three of the games’ surfaces were complete on Monday evening when Unlimited opened, while one had already been reduced to a schematic diagram overshadowed by a dune of colored sand. Assistants from Xu’s studio spent the remainder of the week painstakingly rendering the other two tables into functional gaming apparatuses with traditional implements—only to have their work wiped into nothingness at the end of the fair.
According to gallery director Uli Zhiheng Huang, Nirvana channels Buddhism’s embrace of creation and destruction into a “purist versus capitalist” context that gels with Xu’s longstanding concerns. The entire installation was available for $350,000. 
(see also: https://news.artnet.com/market/art-basel-unlimited-2019-1568539)

Miao Ying was represented at Art Basel by the MadeIn Gallery, her work reflecting the philosophy of the founder Xu Zhen. She was born in Shanghai and lives in New York and Shanghai. Her work highlights the attempts to discuss mainstream technology and contemporary consciousness and its impact on our daily lives, along with the new modes of politics, aesthetics and consciousness created during the representation of reality through technology. She deliberately applies a thread of humor to her works and addresses her Stockholm Syndrome relationship with cultural and socio-political power, such as censorship and self-censorship, lifestyle branding and ideologies in general.  In the video she describes the work that she brought to Art Basel this year.

I recently lectured at the Bussiness and Technical University in Chongqing, China in creativity and colour in fashion. I loved being in China and want to go back again. I am interested in Chinese art and culture and in particular would like to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Would love to initiate an exchange of TCM doctors from Chongqing with Zurich. Am researching and writing on creativity from a creatives point of view to be published later this year. larmuth@gmail.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaretlarmuth/

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