Activating Space in Contemporary China

07.07.2017 | 15-17h   -  @SinArts Gallery

Rachel Marsden | Deng Liwen | Thomas J Berghuis | Dick van Broekhuizen



“Although Zhang eventually did get reactions to his art on the street and through the media, these were verbal responses, not visual communication. His insistence on displaying thousands of his graffiti heads in public over several years was extraordinary; in the end, however, he still failed to engage other images into a spontaneous visual dialogue. Partly because of the city’s irresponsiveness on this level of interaction, Zhang (…) had to explore other possibilities to realize the theme of his project—dialogue. The result was a subtle but crucial change in the meaning of this theme: he was increasingly preoccupied with an ongoing “visual dialogue” internal to the city(…). In addition, photography gradually took over to become his means to represent such visual dialogue, often dramatic confrontations of architectural images with his sprayed self-images”[i]

[i] Wu Hung, Zhang Dali’s Dialogue: conversation with a city, in Public Culture 12(3): 749–768, Duke University Press, 2000.
Zhang Dali, Demolition - Forbidden City, C-print 2007

Zhang Dali, Demolition - Forbidden City, C-print 2007

On the occasion of the exhibition of Zhang Dali, Body and Soul at Museum Beelden aan Zee [1.7-8.10.2017] and the heightened interest in experimental art and the role of activism in China after the Yellow Umbrella revolution in Hong Kong. SinArts Gallery and Museum Beelden aan Zee have taken this opportunity to bring together three critical minds in the field of Chinese art to discuss their views and ideas on activating space in contemporary China.

Rachel Marsden [Chinese artists as Activists - From Museums to Occupy Movements] and Zoénie Liwen Deng [Exercising Right to the City – Urban Artivism in China] will each present on the current situations of art and activism in and about the city in China. As a researcher on performance art and art and activism in China and Indonesia Thomas Berghuis will act as a respondent, followed by a moderated discussion and a Q&A led by Dick van Broekhuizen [curator contemporary sculpture Museum Beelden aan Zee]

Drinks will be served after the presentations.



Rachel MARSDEN is a curator, researcher, educator and arts writer specialising in Chinese and Asian contemporary arts and culture, transcultural curating, social art practices (Occupy Movements), intercultural communication and translation, and (self-)publishing. She is Lecturer in Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne, Australia, recently completing her PhD in The Transcultural Curator: Local to Global Translations of Contemporary Chinese Art since 1980 at Birmingham City University, UK. She is founder and curator of The Temporary curatorial platform and governing board member for China Residencies (New York) and NPE Art Residency (Singapore).

DENG Liwen (Zoénie) is a PhD candidate in ASCA, University of Amsterdam, focusing on art and activism and social practices in China. Being a researcher of the ERC funded project ChinaCreative, her research is provisionally entitled “The Criticalities of Socially Engaged Art Concerning Urbanisation in Contemporary China”. Deng has worked as a coordinator, translator, and editor for Shanghai Biennale in 2012. She is also a critic and contributor to art media such as Leap and Artforum China

 Dr. Thomas J. BERGHUIS is a Principal Fellow (Honorary) with the University of Melbourne, Australia and currently based in Leiden, The Netherlands. A scholar and curator of contemporary art in China and Indonesia, Berghuis previously worked as a Lecturer in Asian Art at the University of Sydney (2008-13); The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2013-15); and Director of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) in Jakarta (2015-16). He is the author of Performance Art in China (2006).

Dick van BROEKHUIZEN is Curator of modern sculpture in museum Beelden aan Zee. Also, Broekhuizen is PhD researcher in Leiden, conducting a research on nineteenth-century French Animalier Sculpture. In the past, he has organised exhibitions in the museum, including shows on Charles Despiau, Les Animaliers, Xianfeng! Contemporary Chinese Sculpture, and The Unwanted Land on the impact of migration in sculpture. His publications include texts on Chinese sculpture, George Minneand Alfred Haberpointner.  

SinArts Space is a young gallery based in The Hague, focusing on representing contemporary art from China and east Asia. SinArts hopes to not only tell a fresh story about the development of art from China but also actively contribute to the discussion about and its contextualization in Europe.

SinArts was set up by sinologist Alex Lebbink. For more than a decade he has been contributing to the developments in the Chinese art world. His gallery has grown organically from an online platform to physical space to tell a story.