Media Arts researchers exhibit work in Xi’an, China

Media Arts researchers exhibit work in Xi’an, China

Media Arts researchers Gareth Williams and Jeremy Mayall visit Xi’an Art Museum in Xi’an, China. They are there to install an exhibition entitledComparative Degrees of Narration’. Work from 14 Media Arts researchers and 9 Xi’an artists will be on show. The exhibition opened on Saturday, 29th April 2017.

Read on to hear about Jeremy and Gareth’s experience exhibiting in a foreign country, eating local food and visiting the Terracotta Warriors. Exciting stuff!

Is this your first visit to China? Can you tell us what you are there for?

For Jeremy, this will be his second time in China and second visit to Chengdu University. For me, (Gareth), this is my third time in China.  We are currently in Xi’an, installing an art exhibition which includes work from 14 Wintec researchers as well as work from 9 Xi’an artists at the Xi’an Art Museum. We will go to Chengdu University for a quick visit next week to talk to some postgrad students.

 

Can you tell us about the exhibition you are installing?

This exhibition is essentially a continuation of what was shown at the Blue Roof Museum in Chengdu last year. The work from the Wintec artists is exploring the broad idea of ecology – with a particular focus on water. It is a mixed media exhibition with painting, sculpture, photography, video, sound, and installation and has been in China since September 2016.

The Xi’an artists work has been curated by Ding Fenqi (he also curated the Chengdu artists work at Blue Roof) and he has given the overall show the title of “Comparative Degrees of Narration” – which seems to be focussed on exploring the cultural dialogue between work created in NZ and work created in China.

What has been the most enjoyable moment of the trip so far?

It has been pretty busy since we landed – lots of work to be done prepping the exhibition with not much down time. But overall the people and the food have been very enjoyable. A range of new dishes and the food seems to just keep coming!

We also had a quick trip out to look at the Terracotta Warriors – this was interesting. So many people it became overwhelming at times, but interesting to see the scale of those archaeological pits and how the work was found.

 

What has been your biggest challenge during the trip?

It seems that language (and the language difference) is the biggest general challenge during our time here. If we were here as tourists, this may be less of an issue because we would look at the sights, experience things and all would be good.

But in this case we are working, and needing to discuss some theoretical concepts that can be difficult, even when both parties speak the same language, it is quite a challenge when you can only rely on simple language and phone-based translation apps. The same goes for technical things. When working in a field you know well, it can be quite frustrating to not be able to actually ask for the correct tools you need because the translated word is not clear. This makes everything much slower than it might be somewhere else. But overall it has been amazing what we have been able to achieve.

It has been pretty busy since we landed – lots of work to be done prepping the exhibition with not much down time. But overall the people and the food have been very enjoyable. A range of new dishes and the food seems to just keep coming!

Have you made any meaningful connections with fellow teachers or students during the trip?

So far we have met mainly artists and the staff at the museum. We have certainly made lasting connections with Ding (Curator at Blue Roof) and Bai Xi (from XAM), and there are a number of other people who we have met in previous trips that we still maintain contact with – including Chai Ming at CDU among many others. Generally we have found China to be a welcoming place.

If you could give one piece of advice to fellow researchers, tutors and students on visiting China, what would it be?

The main thing: “Presume nothing – everything is quite different.

Three other things:

1. It’s okay to speak slowly, clearly and carefully

2. Do get a translation app for your phone – this can be very helpful.

3. Prepare for spicy food.

The main thing: “Presume nothing – everything is quite different.”

Any other comments or stories?

Travelling without an extra 100 kg of artworks makes the whole experience much easier this time! Particularly for this project, it has been so vital to have the support of each other and our different areas of expertise in order to make everything work. There are numerous challenges in completing a research project on this scale, but the outcome is worth it.

A huge thank you to our researchers Gareth and Jeremy for sharing their experience working in China so far. Follow along here for more details and images of the exhibition.

Read more stories about Wintec students visiting Chengdu University as part of their studies here.