On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the First Stars exhibition outside Beijing’s National Art Museum of China in 1979, Stars 1979 will present for the first time a contexualized exhibition of this seminal event in the development of contemporary Chinese art. Curated by Wu Hung and Holly Roussell, this show will use a large amount of archival materials to offer a focused look at the Stars’ first exhibition and its circumstances.
There has been significant scholarly interest in contemporary art exhibitions and performance in China during the 1980s and 90s, yet surprisingly, little writing has scratched the surface of the rich history of the Stars group. For this reason, and with thanks to recent access to a significant body of primary documents, this anniversary archival exhibition, in celebrating the art group’s forty-years in 2019, will be an exciting addition to the research of the history of Chinese and global contemporary art.
The curators have chosen to look at the Stars’ story through the lens of its exhibition history. Specifically, the show will focus on the year 1979 and the first outdoor exhibition. It will contain over 150 primary archival documents and documentary photographs, publications, film footage, as well as a conceptual reconstruction of the First Stars Exhibition.
A publication will be produced in conjunction with the exhibition to offer a detailed account of the First Stars Exhibition, including its content, context, layout, preparation, and documentation. It will feature several research essays on these aspects, and will reproduce key archival materials. It will be an invaluable source for studying the Stars in particular and contemporary Chinese art in general.
Wu Hung is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and consulting curator of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and Executive Director of OCAT Institute. His books on both traditional and contemporary Chinese art have explored ways to integrate these conventionally separate phases into new kinds of art-historical narratives. His award-winning publications include Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space (2005), A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), and Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1999) and Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching at the University of Chicago (2007). The College of Art Association has recognized his contributions to the profession with its Distinguished Teaching Award (2008) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2018).
Wu Hung has curated numerous exhibitions on Chinese contemporary art since 1984, such as Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of 20th Century, Chicago, 1998, “Canceled”: Exhibiting Experimental Art in China, Chicago, 2000, The First Guangzhou Triennial: Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art, 1990-2000, Guanzhou, 2002, Re-imagining Asia, (with Shaheen Merali), Berlin, 2008, Inspired by the Opera: Contemporary Chinese Photography and Video, Chicago, 2014, An Exhibition about Exhibitions: Displaying Experimental Art in the 1990s, Beijing, 2016, Forty Years of Contemporary Chinese Photography—an expended version, Shenzhen, 2018, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, Los Angeles, 2019, The Painted Screen Past and Future , Suzhou, 2019.
Holly Roussell, born 1989, Craftsbury Common, United States. Lives and works in Suzhou, China. Holly Roussell is Swiss/American independent curator, museologist, and art historian specializing in photography and contemporary art from Asia. She served as coordinator of the worldwide traveling exhibitions program and photography prize, the Prix Elysée, for the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, she co-founded the Asia Photography Project, a non-profit curatorial collective and platform for photography from East Asia.
As an independent curator, some recent projects include curating the 4th Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale (2018) under the direction of Li Zhenhua, Pixy Liao Experimental Relationship at the Rencontres d’Arles (2019), and the major publication and travelling exhibition project, Civilization: The Way We Live Now (co-curated with William A. Ewing) that travels to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, KR (2018), UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. CN (2019), NGV, Melbourne, AUS (2019), Auckland Art Gallery (2020), MUCEM, Marseille, FR (2021) and other venues. Holly Roussell is a regular expert to international portfolio reviews and has contributed as author to a number of exhibition catalogues, artist books and magazines on photography.
About the exhibition
Curators: Wu Hung, Holly Roussell
Opening: 2019.12.20 17:00-18:00
Duration: 2019.12.20 – 2020.04.12
Venue: OCAT Institute
Courtesy of OCAT Institute, for further information please visit http://ocatinstitute.org.cn/en.