韩国“白南准艺术中心”带来的白南准（Nam June Paik，1932-2006）历史性的作品，也将与这些新的实践，构成时间和媒介上的相互映照。
This is a project that can change the working mechanism of the biennale as we have established a new committee coordinating the organizers and the curators, thus transforming the tension generated in the executions of artistic projects into creativity.
The phrase ‘expanded animation’ was coined by the famous media theorist Siegfried Zielinski in his book “Media Archaeology”, in which he not only presented his views on technology and history but also explored the global landscape of the interactions among different cultures and technologies.
‘Expanded animation’ is not only an extension to the concepts of animation, but also further investigates the concepts of geo-culture and globalization. We present two groups of different practices and explorations that emerged out of the teaching practices at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe and Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts.
Nam June Paik Art Center from Korea brought the historical works of Nam June Paik (1932-2006). The works will form a dialogue with the new practices in terms of time and media.
The Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale has been successfully held over 3 occasions. Each time a breakthrough. Educational programs and exhibition displays have been added, focus of reflection on animation and film has been emphasized, and the content has been enriched by bringing in different international perspectives of new media art. Thinking about the spatial relationship between mechanisms and human life have increased our meaning.
“Expanded Animation” can be seen as another breakthrough. It embodies the committee’s ambition to create. With the participation of well-known curators, the biennale has achieved the goal of supporting cultural production, transcending geography, and completing the re-upgrading of the fields such as animation, video, and new media, which are the necessity of the biennale. In a time when culture is largely driven by the Internet and social media, we aim to unify art, technology and people's livelihood with video game art and the objects of daily life.
The idea was realized with the help of Suh Jinsuk from Korea, Tang Yong from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Holly Roussell from U.S, Daniel Franke from Germany, Yang Jing from Hong Kong and Cao Kai and Xue Feng from Nan Jing. The works they presented range from 1960 to current day in different mediums to create an interrelationship with one another.
Our venues included C2 at OCT-Loft, Artron Art Centre, B.Park, Extra Time Art Museum and Shape of Water. Together with Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Shenzhen) and Hua Art Museum, they became the local partners of the biennial that transgresses space and time.
Special thanks to institutions such as Consulate General of Switzerland in Guangzhou, Pro Helvetia Shanghai, VIDEOTAGE, Floating Projects, Ox Warehouse, Le Fresnoy, HeluCulture, Konka Group, Jinfan Tea, Guangfo Metro Advertising, Hongri Lighting, Dynasty Culture, Dongzhou Culture, Vivinevo and Jinchen Watch, and colleges such as Anhui Normal University, Beijing Film Academy, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, Nanjing University of the Art, Academy of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China Xu Beihong Arts College, Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Sichuan Comic And Animation Research Center, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, Communication University of China, China Academy of Art, Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Contemporary Animation Art Archive, Humanity and Animation Research Center of the School of Film and Animation at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou International Youth Animation Biennale, Xi’an Student Video Art Festival at Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts and Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Art.
It has been more than a month since the opening of the biennale. Looking back on the fuss and anxiety we had right before the opening, it feels like it happened a long time ago. It is true that all things will pass, and everything will eventually become a memory.
The Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale takes place every two years. It can be seen as a mountain that embodies the expectations of the organizer and the ambition of the curators. The 4th edition of the biennale was like a mountain that nobody had ever seen before. Its academic vision, its venue and its scale were all expanded, imposing huge challenges on the executive team. Nevertheless, we love embracing these challenges.
The preparation of the the 4th edition started early in the spring of 2017 when the 3rd edition just ended. We thought starting early would give us enough of a buffer to plan and adjust. We talked to the organizer OCT-Loft and the curator Li Zhenhua about the model of the biennale and we all agreed that the executive committee would act on behalf of the biennale to coordinate the biennale and invite curators and artists. In this way, we followed to the international biennial trend and rule, and brought our biennale to a world stage.
After half a year of preparation, we defined the biennial theme, the number of sections it would present and invited the curators. In March 2018, we gathered the curators in OCT-Loft and held the first meeting, introducing the project to them in details. In April, we hosted the Artist in Residency program and invited a Swedish artist and his team to Shenzhen to explore and make art. In May, we organized our first lecture “The Art World of Augustine Rebetz”, and in August, we announced an open call for works that will be featured in the “Recommendation Screening” section, and announced the list of nominees in October. Meanwhile, we discussed the spatial deign, collected materials, and worked on the visual design. In November, the project was finally ready to be executed. Eventually, the opening ran smoothly in the afternoon of the 8th of December. Although everything seemed to be going smoothly, only those who organized exhibition before would know how difficult it was to get to this point.
Looking back on the biennial, there were a few challenges that we encountered: we have six sections, seven curators got involved, almost two third of the works were installations. Besides, we had more than thirty cooperative institutions and held ten academic events. There were so many unexpected things happened. Money was what we needed the most, but also what we lacked. For instance, we wanted to use the cargos to create an exhibition space, which would be our archival center. However, the concrete floor of the OCT-Loft cannot bear the weight of the cargos, hence we could only use materials that resembled that of the cargo’s, which resulted in higher cost and longer production time. In addition, most of the works featured in “Code to Materials” section are installations, which were supposed to be brought to China by putting them in the artists’ carry-on bags. The curator (also one of the artists) suddenly changed his mind and told us that he wanted to ship the materials by air a week before they left for Shenzhen. This was totally unexpected as not only the cost was increased, but also we needed to deal with the customs clearance process. Since Xiaojie was assigned to take care of this issue, she never slept well again. When it was only a week away from the opening, she contacted the customs broker every single day, going back and forth between the company, the airport and the customs. The first two days of December were a weekend so the customs was closed. On the 3rd of December they started to do customs clearance. In the afternoon of the 4th, when we almost got all the paper works done and we were notified that all artworks could be released, the website of the customs crashed. Another day passed. We received a new notification at 9:43 am of the 5th, which was a great weight off our shoulders. By the time we got the artworks back, it was only three days away from the opening, so we worked overtime every night. Going home at 1 am and coming back to work at 9 am became a norm for Xiaojie and Lu Chuan, who were in charge of coordinating on site. They had red eyes til the end of the opening. I have to say that it is great to be young.
We updated the progress we made in our installation group chat all the time. In the afternoon of the 7th, we were concerned that we could not find the coal that the artists requested; during the night the electricity was shut down, and there were something wrong with both Ho Tzu Nyen and Bruce’s works so they needed to be replaced…similar problems ensued all the time. Eventually, we opened at 4 pm on the 8th. Who would have imagined we had encountered so many challenges?
Every time we dealt with issues like submitting customs declarations, the organizer always generously offered their help. As the project coordinator, Ming Lian was busy with looking for the head of the Cooperate and gathering materials needed for customs declaration. In the most hectic time, we did not care much about whether the work should be assigned to Party A or Party B. Everyone worked overtime together and stayed up late. Mounting the exhibition is physically demanding, and text proofreading was the most physically taxing one. We often discussed a punctuation mark or a word in the press materials til 11:00 pm, and we were still energized to work the next day. Although Mrs. Xu just recently taken over this project, with her experience and expertise, she offered useful suggestions on collecting the texts from the previous three occasions and the visual design of the exhibition space at C2 square. Although sometimes her suggestions meant heavier workload, everyone could understand each other as we all wanted to make the exhibition as good as possible.
During previous three occasions, I got friends ask me that why a great exhibition like this is not happening in Beijing or Shanghai, but in Shenzhen. I told them that it is because we have a good organizer in Shenzhen and we have a good working relationship with them. The organizer of the biennale, OCT-Loft, it is their vision and courage to choose animation as the theme of the biennale. Since 2012, it has been financing the biennial so that it could run smoothly. It had been held four times in the past eight years. I am one of the founders and curators, and now I am working with Li Zhenhua as producers of the biennale. Measuring the success of a person or an institution is not to see what achievements one makes, but to see one’s continuity and persistence. Therefore, I sincerely thank the organizers for providing such a good platform and opportunity. Although there will always be some tension between us and the organizer, we all held the same goal, which is to make a great exhibition.
We were actively reaching out and making attempts with limited resources, such as choosing Shape of Water as our exhibition venue for the "Game Symbiosis" section, and the B Park and the Artron Art Center as the screening venue for the “Recommended Screening” section. Among these institutions, only Artron Art Center is an art institution, others are either cafe or restaurant, which draw a lot of hype and sensationalism. It is a good way to promote the exhibition. Also, we made some merchandizes such as customized perfume and watch for the biennale. The green tote bag of the Biennale became highly sought-after and they were the best mobile advertising boards during the opening ceremony. (It was not on sale as it was only a gift for the guests, so many audience were jealous of people who have it). Moreover, we had cooperations on equipment needed for the exhibition, receiving support from Shanghai River Road and Hongri Lighting as usual, and the local enterprise Konka Group also generously supported the works by Nam June Paik so that they could be presented well. In terms of media cooperation, we took advantage of live broadcast and subway advertising. Our subway campaign was quite effective as Guangfo Metro Line has a daily ridership of 30,000.
Monetary obstacle is the major concern for large-scale exhibitions. We found ourselves in a bit of bind when looked for money and waited for response from potential sponsors. This reminded me of the difficulties and frustrations that Qiu Zhijie had when he was looking for sponsorship as a curator of the Shanghai Biennale a few years ago. We had the exact same feelings. Luckily, we had many generous friends offering their help, such Mr. Zhang Qinghong (Shanghai Helu Culture), Mrs. Xiao Hong (Dynasty Culture), Mr. Yang Yuze (B.Park), Sammy (Swiss Consulate General in Guangzhou) who is keen to promote Sino-Swiss cultural exchanges, as well as Swiss Art and Culture Foundation. I want to express my gratitude to them for their generosity, which will be forever remembered.
Curators with Different Work Styles
The 2018 Biennial have six sections and seven curators were invited to curate them. The international list of curators includes Korean curator Jinsuk Suh (“Video Collage-Found Footage-Shared Moving Image” section) and American curator Holly Russell (“Throw Your Shadows" section), German curator Daniel Frank (“Code to Material” section), Chinese curator Tang Yong (“Sculptural Animation: Image , Media and Realistic Landscape” section), Cao Yu and Xue Feng from Nanjing, China (“Recommendation Screening” section) and Yang Jing from Hong Kong (“Video Game: Cohabitant” section). They each were responsible for a section. Despite the diverse backgrounds of the curators, the sections they curated are all connected to the overarching theme “Expanded Animation”.
Jinksuk Suh is the director of the Nam June Paik Art Center in South Korea, and he has the persona and work style of a professional curator. Many of the works were exhibited in China for the first time, and video works like “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell” and the “Global Convention” are considered Nam June Paik’s most representative works. At first, we wanted to feature some of Nam June Paik’s works in the biennial. For enriching the "Video Collage - Found Images - Sharing Moving Images” section, Mr. Suh insisted on bringing in works by artist Xu Bing, Ho Tzo Nyuen from Singapore and Bruce from the United States and kept reaching out to their studios and agencies. As these artists are all big names, their standards and requirements for the exhibition are quite high. Mr. Suh as an internationally well-known curator explained to us in a very sincere and humble way, and also took a lot of responsibilities and risks and kept updating the exhibition plan. Hence, I would like to express my deep respect to him.
Holly Russell is a typical American. She is serious, attentive to details and straightforward, which is good as that saved us a lot of trouble. The section she curated is an animated installation by Swiss artists. The workload was heavy and complicated. In order to purchase the neon lights and LEDs required, I went to a factory in Foshan in May of 2018 to do some research and speak with the manufacturer. In October, we got the specific design and the quotation. In November, we could finally get the production started. Due to jet lag and language barrier, we had four parties communicate with one another at the same time, including the artist, the curator, Xiaojie as the translator, and the manufacturer. The progress was slow, everyone was very anxious because it was only a few days til the artists arrived (the 29th of November), but the artist did not lower their standards. On the 27th, we were still adjusting the speed of the animation on the LED panel. We weren’t satisfied until the control was within 3 seconds. Later on, people at the factory said that they finally got to see what a real artist is, and what being imaginative is. I want to thank Mr. Xian and Hongjian from Red Sun Lighting for helping us out.
Other curators also contributed a lot. Tang Yong, a professor at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, kept thinking about the exhibition after confirming the exhibition plan. He even flew over to have a look of the site one month before the opening, confirmed the location of each work and checked all the equipment. Hence, the work presented in the “Sculpture Animation: Image, Media and Realistic Landscape” section received positive feedback from the public, and they looked even better than we expected. At the entrance of the exhibition, the shining lights from Jiao Xingtao's work “Beautiful New World” attracted the audience far away.
Cao Kai and Xue Feng, whose section focuses on "Recommended Screening", were two charismatic figures. When they were looking for artworks, the universities and institutions all responded with great enthusiasm, which was reflected on the list of cooperation institutions that includes more than twenty institutions, such as Videotage from Hong Kong, Floating Points, Ox Warehouse, Beijing Film Academy, Tsinghua University Academy of Arts and Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, Communication University of China, China Academy of Art, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Hubei Academy of Fine Arts and China Contemporary Animation Art Archive. During the opening, they also invited many important figures from the animation department of all the colleges, and launched a three-day seminar and screening, which received positive feedback from the public. Moreover, they determined the touring plan, extending the exhibition of animation.
The young curator Yang Jing is academic high achiever who grew up with video games. She almost played all the works presented in her section “Video Game: Cohabitant”, and knew most of the artists (the makers) personally. Many of these artists are professionals from the IT industry. Some of them used war and schizophrenia as their starting point, their rich content completely subverted our assumed understanding of video games. Although it was Yang Jing’s first time curating a show, she was very savvy, and has strong planning and execution skills. As the “Video Game: Cohabitant” section was spread out in two venues (Shape of Water at OCT-Loft and the Extra Time Art Museum), she worked very hard, going back and forth between Shenzhen and Hong Kong many times before the installation started.
A Stellar Team
Last, I want to talk about our team, the strongest team ever. The core of the team is Li Zhenhua, who is tolerant and open-minded. He pushed our project forward with his effective and professional leadership. When problems arose, he remained calm and solve them one by one. He would also pointed out the mistakes people made at work, but explained to them patiently. When I was admitted to the hospital, he took over all the work without any complaints and allowed me to rest without worrying about the project. He was so energized that it seemed like he never needed sleep. Xiaojie, Lu Chuan, Chen Ying and Wan Nan shared most of the works. Liu Jing, Wei Ling and Lu Chao from the design team were so professional, accepting the changes without any complaints. The red and black elements in the visual id of OCT-Loft brought a variety of colors to the site in the wintertime. Also, the cargos and the outer wall of the main exhibition space became a popular spot for taking pictures。
To realize this year-bound exhibition in vast scale, there are too many interesting stories that I cannot elaborate there. We felt exhausted but satisfied with the result, and I constantly spent time in self-reflection. Finally, I want to quote the words by the Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud as the concluding remark. He said that love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. Our lives revolve, hour after hour on our relationships with others, and they are organized and structure by our work. Work is the combination of reason and sensibility, and it will maintain your vitality. Keep that in mind!