04 Jul 2011
Arthub (born in 2007 as Arthub Asia), stemmed from the desire of exploring and experimenting with the possibilities of collaborative platforms. It took off at a time of urgency, when Chinese contemporary artistic practices had a short history of structural development and faced contradictions and problems of “translation,” especially in regards to methodologies of research within the Chinese and Asian context at large.
Acting as a transcultural mediator, Arthub orchestrates collaborations between Asian and overseas artists and institutions through the production of artworks, exhibitions, publications and educational activities.
In this capacity, Arthub Asia is a proxy, an experiment that aims to connect likeminded local and global creative people, pooling at the same time some degree of authority on the Asian visual art spectrum.
In 1998, Shanghai-based curator Davide Quadrio established China’s first cultural not-for-profit organization. The aim of the BizArt Art Centre was to support the practices of local, emerging artists outside of government and commercial spheres, and encourage discussion. Due to the bureaucratic impossibility of registering as a non-commercial activity in China the name of the organization was ironically chosen to cover its not-for-profit aims.
At the time of BizArt’s origination independent exhibitions were held in improvised spaces such as basements or parking lots. Even before BizArt, Davide Quadrio had started to organize pop-up events in similar impromptu spaces or in cafeterias. The creation of BizArt hoped to provide a professional place for emerging artists to actually create and curate their shows, thereby fostering a local visibility and validation.
Many early participants of BizArt are well known and established artists around the world today. Some of these partners in collaboration date back to “Art for Sale,” one of the firs notable projects BizArt participated within. No longer would artworks be casually displayed. The presentation itself became a message in which artists could collaborate together and provide a conceptual experience for viewers. The BizArt Centre would provide these same opportunities for conceptualism coupled with an international standard of quality.
In 2002, BizArt worked with the Education and Cultural Sector of the British Council on a residence program called Artist Links, which gave UK artists an opportunity to travel to China. The success of this collaboration led to a turning point for BizArt—the implementation of the Artist-in-residence Program. BizArt started focusing on the relevance of artists’ mobility and addressing transcultural issues. More residencies were offered to a wider range of artists, and BizArt’s international community of supporters began to grow. This was the time when the priorities of the organization started shifting from the local sphere to the relevance of artists’ mobility, focusing on transcultural issues.
With this in mind, the 1000 sqm exhibiting space of BizArt–which featured an average of three or four exhibitions per month–started to become a constraint, rather than the strength that it had represented in the early years. This change of direction naturally led to the creation of Arthub Asia in 2007. The founders envisioned the new formula as a “de-institution,” an organization that could be perceived as an institution, but existed without a space and with a small core team that could act as a bridge for local artists and ideas to the rest of Asia and the world. As a de-institution Arthub Asia is allowed to mutate, expand and reduce according to the present economical, psychological and cultural influences surrounding it
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