November 20 Nancy P. Lin

Friday, November 20, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152

The Big Tail Elephant Working Group: Urban Insertion as Artistic Strategy

Nancy P. Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago

Lin Yilin, Safely Maneuvering across Lin He Road, 1995
Lin Yilin, Safely Maneuvering across Lin He Road, 1995

The Big Tail Elephant Working Group [大尾象工作组] (BTE), comprised of the artists Lin Yilin (b. 1964), Chen Shaoxiong (b. 1962), Liang Juhui (1959–2006), and later Xu Tan (b. 1957), emerged in Guangzhou in the early 1990s. As many artists began to move towards the burgeoning art scene in Beijing, BTE continued to stay in Guangzhou, choosing the city’s urban spaces as the subject, site, and raw material for their artwork. This paper examines the group’s strategies and positions in relation to the changing social, economic, and physical terrain of Guangzhou between 1991 and 1998. While most scholarship on urban site-oriented practice attributes the critical force of the work to its ability to disrupt the environment, I argue that BTE operated more subtly through methods of “urban insertion” into the existing spaces and flows of the city. Exploring these insertions, I demonstrate the ways in which BTE’s innovative practice shed light on the city’s urbanization process at the same time as it opened up new possibilities for contemporary art and its sites of exhibition in China in the 1990s.

Friday, November 20, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

xizh

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