The Third Guangzhou Triennial opens from September 6th to November 16th, 2008. Opening preview is (Saturday) September 6th, 2008.

Gao Shiming, Sarat Maharaj, Chang Tsong-zung
Research Curators: Dorothee Albrecht, Sopawan Boonnimitra, Stina Edblom, Tamar Guimaraes, Guo Xiaoyan, Steve Lam, Khaled D. Ramadan

Organiser: Guangdong Museum of Art
Co-Presenter: Hong Kong Arts Development Council

  Farewell to Post-Colonialism

1. Concept:Farewell to Post-Colonialism
For the curatorial discourse of this Triennial, we propose to say ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’. This represents the theoretical basis from which we hope to explore our critical vision. ‘Farewell to Post-colonialism’ is not a denial of the importance and rewards of this intellectual tradition; in the real world, the political conditions criticised by post-colonialism have not receded, but in many ways are even further entrenched under the machinery of globalisation. However, as a leading discourse for art curatorial practice and criticism, post-colonialism is showing its limitations in being increasingly institutionalised as an ideological concept. Not only is it losing its edge as a critical tool, it has generated its own restrictions that hinder the emergence of artistic creativity and fresh theoretical interface. To say ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’ is not simply a departure, but a re-visit and a re-start.
2008 will be forty years since the heady days of 1968. In four decades, waves of new social movement and multi-cultural theories have woven a tapestry of rich and clashing colours out of the world’s changing social realities. International contemporary art has also benefited from the attention to socio-political issues surrounding identity, race, gender and class. But over the years, revolutionary concepts have also transformed into leading discourses safely guarded by ‘political correctness’. Post-colonial discourse’s analysis of the power structure within cultural expressions has triggered a series of cultural resistance, as well as guided the construction of the self as a Subject in relation to the Other. However, these forms of analysis and construction have also adversely developed an institutionalised pluralistic landscape (a multi-cultural ‘managerialism’) that has today turned into a new form of stereotyping. In this Triennial we wish to draw attention to the ‘political correctness at large’ that is the result of the power play of multi-culturalism, identity politics and post-colonial discourse. Urgent issues facing curatorial practice today are: How do we establish an ‘ethics of difference’ within the framework of difference in cultural production? How do we prevent a ‘tyranny of the Other’ without sacrificing the grounds already gained against the power status quo?
For some years major international contemporary exhibitions around the world have worked towards building up ‘discursive sites for a cacophony of voices’ and ‘negotiated spaces of diverse values’, emphasising ‘correctness’ in cultural politics; these have inadvertently triumphed to the neglect of independent pursuit of artistic creativity and alternative imaginative worlds. Concepts of identity, multiplicity and difference are now slowly losing their edge to become new restrictions for artistic practice, succumbing to the phenomena of ‘false representation’ and ‘multi-cultural managerialism’. In response to this, the curatorial project of the Third Guangzhou Triennial centres on mulling over multi-culturalism and its limits within the larger perspective of ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’.
The ‘Farewell’ calls for the renovation of the theoretical interface of contemporary art, in order to depart from its all pervasive socio-political discourse in an endeavour to work together with artists and critics to discover new modes of thinking and fresh analytical tools for today’s world. The curators hope this Triennial will be a process of discovery for ourselves, and not just the fleshing out and illustrating of readymade theories and preconceived ideas. In trying to explore what this Triennial ‘is’, we wish to carry out a parallel inquiry into what it should not be. In this sense, this Triennial may be understood as a locus of questions for all of us involved in the international art world, starting with an Exercise in Negation. We hope to uncover, with the help of artists and thinkers, elements of the paradoxical reality veiled by contemporary cultural discourse, to make contact with realms that slip through the cracks of well-worn concepts such as class, gender, tribe and hybridity. We hope to think together with artists and critics, and investigate through their practices and projects to find what new modes and imaginative worlds are possible for art beyond those already heavily mapped out by socio-political discourses.

2. Issue: Anxiety of Creativity and Possible Worlds

Our mode of existence today is strongly shaped by a web of dominant cultural discourses, which not only affects the ways we perceive the world, but also constitutes a new context in which we think about issues of artistic ‘creativity’. On the one hand, conflicts between social reality and ideal, and negotiations between multiple cultural values have inextricably implicated contemporary art in social and political issues, making art increasingly important in social and political engagement, putting on art greater responsibility to engage and interact with society. The direct impact of this has been the neglect of discussion about creativity. On the other hand, outside the realm of art, from the technological world, the challenge of fresh stimulation and new existential experience through internet and virtual imaging have popularised hyper-reality, virtual history, Second Life game and etc. This new media reality has by now constituted a new experiential ‘subject’ and created the possibility for substitute lives. In short, everyday life is rapidly developing a richness and an imaginative dimension that seriously challenge the myth of fine art. ‘Multiplicity’ of social existence is no longer limited to the cultural diversity of different kinds of social ‘tribes’, but also points to the multiple life-worlds and existential fields that are present in every single individual. Today, ‘alien existence’ is not simply about living among ‘the Other’, but is equally about ‘diverse existence’ found within every corporeal being. It is about thought and living experimentation that is taking place in each body, and about forays into foreign territories within ourselves. In view of this new reality, we have invited scholars, artists and writers to share with us their thoughts on:
· How is ‘creativity’ possible within the present cultural-existential context?
· In the age of hyper-reality and internet existence, when we can readily access alternative realities and other live-worlds through virtual technology, what does transgressing reality mean to artists?
· What does ‘creativity’ implicate?
· What do ‘possible worlds’ implicate?
· How do we redefine the relation between art and reality?

3. Forums in Motion

This Triennial aims to be an international platform of research and artistic creativity, on which artists and scholars may exchange their special experiences. In order to stimulate discussions, and broaden the base for participation, Guangzhou Triennial has organized a series of workshops and conferences under “Forums in Motion”. These Forums have taken place in London, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Huangshan Mountain and Hong Kong under the auspices of 10 important cultural institutions. Over 300 artists, scholars and curators have taken part in these meetings. In each of these forums, issues raised in the Triennial are critically revisited in order to bring discussions forward.

The Forums in Motion is a long expedition that traverses across a wide terrain of ideas; it is separated into 7 stations:
1st Station: Guangzhou Triennial 2008 is launched from the discussion platform Farewell to Post-Colonialism at the Open Day, 21st June 2007, Tate Modern (London)
2nd Station: International Symposium with focus on the phenomenon of multiple international exhibitions in Asia in 2008. Re-starting from Asia: Strategies of Museums and Curatorial Practice with special emphasis on the Limits of Multi-Culturalism. 19th and 20th November 2007, Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou)
3rd Station: Thinking Through the Visual, traveling forum, 23rd to 28th November 2007, China Academy of Art (Hangzhou) and Peking University (Beijing)
4th Station: Artists’ Questionnaire Session, group discussion, 25th and 29th November 2007, BizArt (Shanghai) and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing). In addition to these Sessions, an overseas Session has been organised by Research Curators Steven Lam and Tamar Guimaraes.
5th Station: Unpacking Projects-in-Progress, Workshop, 13th to 18th April 2008, (Huangshan Mountain). Curators, Research Curators and over a dozen artists meet to discuss their Projects in Progress, uncovering a field of issues central to this Triennial.
6th Station: Anxiety of Creativity and Possible Worlds, International Conference, 6th to 7th July 2008, Hong Kong Arts Centre (Hong Kong), supported by Hong Kong Arts Development Council, a Co-Presenter of the Third Guangzhou Triennial. Discussions revolve around existential conditions of creativity and its possibilities.
7th Station: Farewell to Post-colonialism - Towards a Post-Western Society? Critical Reflection on the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial. International conference presented together with the Goethe Institute, 15th-16th November 2008, Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou). This final conference will bring together artists, curators and experts to critically examine the Third Guangzhou Triennial, and to assess the multiple international exhibitions in Asia this fall with in-depth and critical reflection.

By July 2008 we have complete 6 of these Stations, and over the course of this extended journey a series of issues have unfolded. They can roughly be divided into 3 levels:
First: from June to December 2007, we raised issues surrounding cultural and political discourses that include ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’, ‘Limits of Multi-Culturalism’ and ‘Tyranny of the Other’.
Second: from January to June 2008, we focused on curatorial practice and creativity, and discussed issues that include ‘Spectacle of Discourse’, ‘Given Products of Ideology’ and ‘Undigested Reality’.
Third: from July 2008, we concentrate on issues at the creative and existential level: themes include ‘Besieged Society’, ‘Worlds within World’ and ‘Present Modes of Possible Worlds’.

These forums are conducted in various forms, from structured academic lectures to artist workshop; the venues vary from university lecture halls to art centres. For each event the form corresponds to the content, including theoretical presentations by sociologists and theorists, discussions between artists and curators, and critiques of the regime of exhibition. Forums in Motion create an axis linking the year-long activities of Guangzhou Triennial. Essential to the formation of the intellectual vision of this Triennial, it mobilises artists and scholars to jointly take a fresh look at the predicament of contemporary culture forming the context of creativity today. Through these forums Guangzhou Triennial hopes to clarify issues hindering artistic exploration, and to expose new conditions that are gradually becoming central concerns of the cultural world.

4. The Triennial Exhibition

The Triennial exhibition opens from 6th September to 16th November 2008 at the Guangdong Museum of Art and its satellite museum, Time Museum, both in Guangzhou. The 181 artists taking part in the exhibition comes from over 40 countries.
The Triennial Exhibition is structured into 4 sections:
1. Projects in Progress:  Scrutinised in the 5th Station of the Forums in Motion, these 17 projects form our “interlocutor partners” in the sense that they are seen to explore and/or extend the initial topic of this Triennial from artistic angles. Each Project reflects a different engagement with the socio-political world. The artist acts as artistic creator while taking part as researcher and activist of some sort. Projects in Progress are open to development and thus remain “unfinished”. They form a platform of analysis, and prompt discussions of: what is the role of investigation and research in the context of creative art? How does an artist make use of, and ‘digest’, raw reality?
2. Thinking Room: These 18 projects can, hopefully, help us to unpack/decode secrets of the creative process; they display the battery of thinking tools used by these artists, and provide witness accounts of the site of creation. They illustrate methods of thinking and explore contemporary art as a mode of knowledge production, while prompting reflections on the significance of the knowledge generated by art.
3. Free Radicals: These 54 individual artists range from video, installation, painting, writing and performance. They display the Post-colonial context of the art scene today; taken together, their artworks/projects arrive at an artistic terrain that goes beyond the reach of Post-colonial and Multi-cultural discourses, and open up special realities delineated by artistic practices.
4. Independent Projects: These are mostly projects created by the GZ Triennial’s international team of Research Curators; they represent interpretations of the Triennial theme from various angles, and form entry points into the complex realities created or obscured by Post-colonial  discourse. They include:
 1. ‘Middle East Channel’, curated by Khaled Ramadan.
 2. ‘East-South: Out of Sight’, curated by Sopawan Boonnimitra. 
 3. ‘Now in Coming’, curated by Guo Xiaoyan and Cui Qiao.
 4. ‘Tea Pavilion’, curated by Dorothee Albrecht.
 5. ‘Mornings in Mexicos’, curated by Steven Lam and Tamar Guimaraes.
 6. ‘Mapping Currents for the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial’, curated by Stina Edblom and Asia Art Archive.
 7. ‘Organising Mutation’, curated by Leung Chi-wo and Tobias Berger.

General information

Office of the Guangzhou Triennial
Guangdong Museum of Art,
No. 38 Yanyu Road, Er-Sha Island,
Guangzhou, China 510105

Contact: Tang Xiaolin, Asea Dai
T: +86 20 87351261
F: +86 20 87351326