798 stands for much more than a three digit number: in Beijing these numbers symbolize the country's cutting edge art movement led by the Chinese vanguard, unchained artistic personalities with alternative life goals. Wild and unconquered attitudes waft inside 798's free and rambling atmosphere. This area feels a kinship to what can be discovered and sensed along the Left Bank in Paris or around Greenwich Village in NYC.
Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (CCAA) 2008 Exhibition

Artists: Liu Wei, Ai Weiwei, Tseng Yu-Chin


 Sundial No.1, by Cai Guoqiang, 1995

The 2008 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, announced in January of 2008, will culminate with an exhibition traveling from Shanghai to Beijing to be presented at UCCA from November 7 onwards. The exhibition, which will be shown first in the Creative Center of Bund 18 in Shanghai and then the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, will present an offering of important and recent works by Liu Wei, Tseng Yu-Chin, and Ai Weiwei.

The Chinese Contemporary Art Awards were founded by Uli Sigg in 1997 as a nonprofit entity to enhance the position of Chinese contemporary art both domestically and internationally. With the growth of the art market in the ensuing decade, the purpose of the awards has shifted to emphasize a critical position on the conversation over what constitutes meaningful art in current Chinese production. In the words of Uli Sigg, “The market is today the dominant force to validate artworks. To balance and enrich this debate, an institution such as the CCAA plays an important role.” The awards offer a platform for artists to become recognized on the world stage and allow foreign curators to identify some of the most interesting art in greater China.

These three artists were selected by a jury committee consisting of Hou Hanru, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and Chair of Exhibitions and Museum Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute; Ken Lum, Canadian artist of Chinese heritage who has received a Guggenheim fellowship, enjoyed a career in education, and been invited to many major exhibition; Gu Zhenqing, curator and critic in charge of the recently opened gallery Li Space; Chris Dercon, director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich; Ruth Noack, curator of Documenta 12; Huang Du, independent curator and critic who curated the sixth Shanghai Biennale; and Uli Sigg, founder of CCAA. These esteemed critics, artists, and curators took as their criteria the display of original and unique talent in artistic creation. This academic criteria should help stimulate debate over the concept of artistic value in the currently booming art market. The exhibition of the winning artists works will be accompanied by a publication written by Pauline Yao, who received the newly-established Chinese Contemporary Art Award for independent art criticism in 2008.

Liu Wei, recognized for the Best Artist award, challenges the limitations of experience and the standard of discourse implied by the language of international contemporary art. His installation and conceptual work has achieved great success in terms of representing China in the international art scene. In his experiments, he continually revises his system of artistic production and methodically interrogates that which most artists take for granted. He has shaken our understandings of both the definition of contemporary art and the role played by the exhibition in this system. Liu Wei does not fear failure, and often begins again after unsatisfactory projects. In this way, he gestures towards a future beyond the current boom in the Chinese art market against a background of global production and consumption.

Tseng Yu-Chin, recognized for the Best Young Artist award, creates work characterized by a deep and subtle humanism. He is largely concerned with the role of the individual in the context of a changing contemporary society, especially in terms of the perceived demise of traditional configurations of community and family; his practice, however, is also filled with hope and redemption. His films and videos are in turns compassionate and voyeuristic, pushing depiction of his subjects almost to a point of representational crisis. In this way, he pays homage to the pioneering video art of Zhang Peili while developing towards a unique aesthetic voice. These pieces often appear as video vignettes borrowed from a particular model of Taiwanese cinema, allowing his work to act as a bridge between the changing modernities of mainland China and Taiwan, where he is based.

Ai Weiwei is recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Perhaps no artist has mirrored the volatile and challenging history of Chinese contemporary art more deeply and accurately than Ai Weiwei. His work has transcended the category of contemporary art and penetrated the very heart of Chinese society, engaging with China’s complex social and political dynamics and contributing to its radically changing architectural and designed spaces. His multivalent contributions have made Ai Weiwei a reference point for any student who desires to gain an understanding of the present situation of Chinese contemporary art and culture.

“These exhibitions and this book will shed more light on the winning artists Liu Wei, Tseng Yu-Chin, and Ai Weiwei. They were selected in a very intense jury meeting and they deserve all the attention the CCAA book and exhibitions can create!” -Uli Sigg

Chinese Contemporary Art Awards 2008 Exhibition: Lifetime Achievement Award: Ai Weiwei, born 1957 Beijing, now based in Beijing Best Artist: Liu Wei, born 1972 Beijing, now based in Beijing Best Young Artist: Tseng Yu-Chin, born 1978 Taibei, now based in Taibei

Organized by Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, Bund 18, and Ullens Center of Contemporary Art.

Sponsored by UBS.

Exhibition dates: Sep 3- Oct 12, 2008
Venue: Bund 18 18 Zhongshan East Road (E1) 200002 Shanghai, P.R.C.
Gallery Hours: 10 am to 7 pm, 7 days a week


Exhibition dates: Nov 7 to Dec 21, 2008
Venue:Ullens Center for Contemporary Art 798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Rd. Chaoyang District, Beijing, P.R. China, 100015

Tel: (8610) 8459-9269

Fax: (8610) 8459-9717
Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 7 pm, Closed on Monday

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