Important Events: Chinese Century


Cover image:Zhao Yao, Wonderlands

HARMONIOUS SOCIETY – A major exhibition of new commissions and UK premieres shown across Manchester city centre

27 September to 23 November 2014

 A key strand of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, Harmonious Society will feature over 30 major artists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong exhibited across six key spaces in Manchester: Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, ArtWork, The John Rylands Library, Manchester Cathedral, Museum of Science & Industry and National Football Museum.

Responding to the ATM14 theme of Conflict and Compassion, CFCCA’s curatorial team led by Jiang Jiehong, Professor of Chinese Art at Birmingham City University and a former curator of Guangzhou Triennial, has focused on the current socio-economic vision presented by the government of mainland China, which seemingly presents ‘no conflict’ but rather, almost poetically, 天下無事, a ‘Harmonious Society’. Artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan also reflect their own socio-political situations that respond to the curatorial theme extensively. Simultaneously the era has been discussed as an increasingly destabilised and challenging world and one that has already transformed in the early years of the 21st century – in terms of space, identity and communication.

Artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, including major figures such as China’s Zhang Peili, Taiwan’s Chen Chieh-Jen and Hong Kong’s Leung Chi Wo, have been invited to show work for the first time in the UK or to develop new work in response to this era of unprecedented social, ideological and cultural transformation through their individual memories, personal reflections and imaginations.

CHEN Chieh-Jen, Objects of Reverberation

Artists confirmed for Harmonious Society are CHANG Huei-Ming (Taipei), CHEN Chieh-Jen (Taipei), CHEN Wenbo (Beijing), CHENG Ching-Yuan (Taipei), HE An (Beijing), JIN Feng (Shanghai), KAN Xuan (Beijing), KAO Jun-Honn (Taipei), LEUNG Chi Wo (Hong Kong), LEE Kit (Hong Kong), LI Wei (Beijing), LIU Jianhua (Shanghai), LIU Xiaodong (Beijing), Luxury LOGICO (Taipei), PAK Sheung-Chuen (Hong Kong), TOF (JIN Feng and DING Li) (Shanghai), WAN Lai-Kuen (Hong Kong), WANG Sishun (Beijing), WANG Yin (Beijing), WANG Yuyang (Beijing), XU Qu (Beijing), YANG Zhenzhong (Shanghai), YAO Jui-Chung (Taipei), Samson YOUNG (Hong Kong), ZHANG Peili (Hangzhou), ZHAO Yao (Beijing), ZHENG Guogu (Yangjiang), ZHOU Xiaohu (Shanghai), YAN Bing (Beijing), YUAN Gong (Shanghai), ZHUANG Hui and DAN’er (Beijing).

Over half the works are new commissions; most are site specific made in response to the artists’ recent visits to Manchester. The remainder are UK premieres.  The following is a small selection of the ambitious works being shown in Harmonious Society:

New Manchester venue ArtWork will be showing a specially created site-specific kinetic commission from Zhang Peili, a towering installation of six un-identifiable flags waving in unison, sweeping the concrete floors of the warehouse exhibition space gently as they sway. The large warehouse space will also host new work by WANG Sishun,a beautiful large-scale bronze column sculpture that seems to defy the laws of gravity. While ZHOU Xiaohucreates an immersive tunnel installation, allowing the viewer to walk through the space, which will be filled with sandbags and screens showing footage of current conflicts.

Museum of Science & Industry will present theUK premiere of CHEN Chieh-Jen’s major new 4 screen video work,Realm of Reverberations. This new worklooks at the deconstruction of Losheng Sanitarium, the first medical institution for leprosy patients in Taiwan and whose demolition became a cause célèbre in the country.Chen Chieh-Jen is one of Taiwan’s foremost artists, exhibiting widely internationally, including at Venice Biennale, Biennale de Lyon, São Paulo Art Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, and Shanghai Biennale.

Taking inspiration from the historical site of the Museum – that of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station - KAO Jun-Honn plans to use an aboriginal Taiwanese folk song Malan Girl as his contribution to ATM14. A love song about the railroad, the last verse describes using the “train” as way to die for love. Luxury LOGICO will present new site-specific work as part of the Solar series. This work combines computer technology and recycled Manchester lamps to create a mesmerising artificial sun. In this new iteration of a series the artists aim to convey the optimism reflected by recycling and a high-tech future. CHEN Ching-Yuan’s recent work flare-s, (2013) is a looped 5 minute screened animation. The film depicts men on boats sending rescue signals into the sky. As more and more signals are ignited, desperate calls for help are transformed into celebratory fireworks.

Visitors to National Football Museum will be greeted by YANG Zhenzhong magnificent sculptural pieceLong Live the Great Union (2011). Tiananmen Square is no longer unique in China with many mock-ups being built by local governments all across the country. They no longer carry with them the original sense of imperial dignity or the monumental revolutionary significance of 1949, but rather act merely as theatrical sets and tourist attractions. Yang Zhenzhong plays with this idea deconstructing the familiar architectural body of Tiananmen into nine pieces, with the separate components scattered in a seemingly disorderly manner. Only through one specially designed viewpoint can this complex mass, marked with such recognisable signs, be ‘reassembled’ visually into a whole ‘harmonious’ image.

Yan Zhenzong

A work that simultaneously looks at China and Manchester, LEUNG Chi Wo‘stwo part installation No Politics Todayexplores the history of civil struggles, including the IRA bombing of Manchester and the closure of the original Free Trade Hall.  “No politics today!” was the shout issued by Mainland Chinese students when Taiwanese singer-songwriter Deserts Chang held up the Republic of China flag on stage during her live concert at the University of Manchester in November 2013.

LIU Xiaodong explores the vastly juxtaposing environments of two conflicting states. In its UK premier, this series of 17 paintings entitled In Between Israel and Palestine will be shown at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. During four weeks living in Tel Aviv, Liu Xiaodong travelled throughout the Holy Land to witness and research the implications of religion, nationality, and cultural diversity.

Responding to the impressive architecture of Manchester Cathedral, LI Wei will produce a double-sided mirror sculpture, resembling a traditional full-length dressing mirror with intricate decoration. The frame will be decorated all over by images of animals, some real and some half-human-half-animal hybrids, providing a literal reflection on humanity and human instinct and behaviour. 

Samson YOUNG‘s sound installationChamber Music II: Silent Scores & Non-Events explores the cultural construction of deaf people as disabled, in both its current and historical dimensions. Shown in the Gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library, the work draws extensively from the Henry Baker papers and the deaf-mute education collection at the Library, the largest collection of such materials in the UK. The work will feature a series of small, low volume, sound making objects, installed at various locations within the Library’s atrium area. An equally intimate work of seemingly breathing books by WANG Yuyang will also intrigue and captivate visitors to the Library.

ZHUANG Hui and DAN’er have created a movable sculpture in the form of a shipping crate, made of brass disguised as wood. The crate will be sent around the world, collecting customs stamps and stickers, creating its own global story.

A full pack of information on all the artists appearing in Harmonious Society will be available.

For further information, images or interviews please contact Catharine Braithwaite on 07947 644 110 or


Important to Know:

Harmonious Society is produced in collaboration with Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing), Taiwanese Ministry of Culture and University of Salford for ATM14, with support from Capital Properties, T Museum and Manchester City Council.

Led by Jiang Jiehong, the project is curated by a curatorial team including Yu-Ling Chou, Ying Kwok, Lori Luo, Paul Stanley, Ying Tan and Lindsay Taylor.

Centre of Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester (CFCCA)

The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art has a 28-year history of showcasing Chinese artists from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the diaspora. It is now working nationally to extend knowledge about Chinese contemporary art within the context of the ‘Chinese Century’ and the global shift east. Ongoing projects include working with University of Salford to develop a new collection of Chinese Contemporary Art, and with a range of partners to develop both exhibitions across the country and the knowledge sharing Curating Chinese Contemporary Network.

Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 (ATM14), the only Asian Art Triennial outside the Asia Pacific region, returns to Manchester, UK for a third time on 27 September to 23 November 2014, with a vibrant and stimulating showcase of the foremost contemporary visual art from across the globe.

A major initiative of MIRIAD, Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 is a festival of visual culture that features a series of powerful exhibitions, commissions, and creative interventions by artists who live in, work in or address issues surrounding Asia.