This Frank Davis Memorial Lecture explores and celebrates the artistic work of Seecum Cheung. In this lecture we will trace Cheung’s long-term study of gentrification in Shenzhen, China, her father’s ancestral village. This work began in April 2018 with the evictions in Shenzhen that remain ongoing, mapping out the shifts, transitions, and implications of the pandemic on the work. Working chronologically, we additionally traverse the artists films prior to this work, in order to disentangle the political happenings of the time to contextualise Cheung’s practice in 2021.
Seecum Cheung is a visual artist and non-narrative documentary filmmaker. Her current work is an ongoing series of films based upon interviews and encounters with leading specialists in the field of right-wing radicalism, human rights and activist groups, politicians, and affected citizens. Recent films include extensive interviews on the rise of the far-right in Germany, with political journalist and writer Richard Cooke & SBS Public Broadcasters (Interview with Lennart, 2016); coverage of the Dutch elections with writer, musician, broadcaster and curator Morgan Quaintance (The Dutch Window, 2017); a study towards the inequalities found within cancer care treatment, for NHS England in collaboration with the human rights charity brap (Inequalities of BAME patients Cancer Care Study, 2018-19), and most recently, the gentrification and total eviction of local residents and business owners within Cheung’s ancestral family village in Hubei, Shenzhen (Eviction in Shenzhen, 2019-ongoing). She currently teaches at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.
About the series ‘Asian Art after Quarantine’:
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, there has been a surge in racist attacks against Asian and Asian diasporic people across the globe; from everyday microaggressions to the recent mass shootings in Atlanta, USA, in March 2021. Yet, international media coverage has continued to disproportionally focus on the ‘China threat’ instead of giving voice and visibility to Asian communities. In solidarity with social justice movements and organisations such as #iamnotavirus, Stop AAPI Hate and StopDiscriminAsian (SDA), the 2021 Frank Davis Lecture Series presents a series of dialogues and conversations centred on Chinese and British-Chinese diasporic artistic experience in a turbulent year marked by city-wide quarantines and isolation, a scarcity of funding and public platforms for the arts, the unmasking of institutional structures of racism and anti-Asian violence.
Organised by Dr Wenny Teo (The Courtauld)