In this final Frank Davis Memorial Lecture The Courtauld is thrilled to be in conversation with artist Chris Zhongtian Yuan.
How do we reconstruct a piece of personal memory that’s so intertwined with the memory of a collective or community? How much can we trust memory rendered and interrogated by trauma, nostalgia, media frenzy and cultural imagination? Chris Zhongtian Yuan’s 2020 video Wuhan Punk explores the thin line between memory and imagination surrounding the disappearance of former member of Wuhan Punk band Si Dou Le and founder of Youth Autonomous Centre, who was active between mid 1990s and late 2000s in Wuhan, China. The film unfolds with a narrator muttering in Wuhan dialect under the narrator’s breath, often overlaid with intense, frictional sounds, searching for narratives, anecdotes and fascinations surrounding the musician. Combining archival materials with atmospheric CGI animation, Wuhan Punk commemorates and rewrites personal nostalgia for a rapidly changing metropolis, and the city’s rebellious and resistant temper. Weaving together personal memory, historical account, jokes, anecdotes, and music/video clips, the talk unfolds the making of the film, and retells brief history of Wuhan Punk movement, intertwined with personal memory of the city.
Chris Zhongtian Yuan will then be joined in conversation with En Khong Liang, followed by Q&A
Chris Zhongtian Yuan (b.1988, Wuhan) is an artist based in London. Guided by an immersive period of research and performative component, their recent video works have explored the hunting of a mutated species within the entangled web of ecology, human construction and migration, a musical medium’s supernatural channeling of colonial narratives, and the search of memory, resistance and nostalgia surrounding a disappeared Punk musician. These ephemeral sonic and narrative materials aim to rewrite and dismantle the archaic, oppressive power structures. Recent presentations include: Wuhan Punk, Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy, Somerset House, London (2021); Wuhan Punk, 5th Documentary Exhibition of Fine Art Triennial, Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan (2020); Wuhan Punk, Film & Video Umbrella, London (2020); Banal Objects, DIY Aesthetics, OCAT Institute, Beijing (2020); 1815, K11, Wuhan (2020); Counterfictions, York Art Gallery (2020); Counterfictions, Architectural Association (2019); Ghost Towers, Architectural Association (2018); City of Objects, Venice Architecture Biennale Greek Pavilion (2018) among others. Yuan is the recipient of 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize and OCAT Institute Research-based Curatorial Project Award.
En Liang Khong is an editor and writer. His work concerns the intersection of art and protest culture, exploring how social explosions influence cultural production, both inside as well as beyond the traditional artworld. He is currently Director at the arts and culture publication ArtReview, based in London. He was formerly Senior Editor of frieze magazine, and prior to that, a journalist at the investigative human-rights platform openDemocracy. He is a regular critic for the Financial Times and Times Literary Supplement. His writing has also been published in the New Statesman, Prospect and the Daily Telegraph, and his essays have been included in several book collections and catalogues, including The Two-Sided Lake (Liverpool University Press, 2016). Lectures and panel discussions include events hosted by the British Council, FT Weekend and the TLS. He has served as a juror for the Aesthetica Art Prize and Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grants. He took a first-class degree in Ancient and Modern History followed by a Master’s in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford, where he was awarded the C.V. Wedgwood and Gibbs Prizes, and the Oldham Scholarship for study at the British School at Rome. Prior to that, he studied cello at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was awarded the Hirsch Prize for chamber music performance. He is a former BBC Young Composer of the Year.
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)