Little Movements: Self-practice in Contemporary Art
10 September–10 November 2011
5pm, 10 September 2011
Curators: Liu Ding and Carol Yinghua Lu
Assistant Curator: Su WeiOCAT Programme for Emerging Art Practitioners
Enping Road, Overseas Chinese Town, Nanshan
District, Shenzhen, China.
Little Movements: Self-practice in Contemporary Art is an ongoing project that was conceived, initiated and organized by Liu Ding, Carol Yinghua Lu and Su Wei, and includes research, discussion, publications and exhibitions. What it examines and presents are new modes of thinking and working in artistic and theoretical practices, both international and local, past and present. Among them are practices of individual artists, small artist collectives, institutions, publishing, art history writing, and education as well as curatorial practices. Some of the processes and forms of these practices can be described and summarized, while some are difficult to convey or sum up within the existing categories of artistic practice. But none of them rely on past experience, references, values judgments or art history discourse for affirmation. Rather, they attempt to transcend value judgment by these boundaries and gradually create self-contained systems based on internal motivation, independent thinking and constant self-appraisal. They employ independent values, attitudes and working methods to rethink, resist, shake and influence universal values, standards, systemic forces and all forms of inertia. They consciously defy and actively cast doubt on the discourse of systemization and standardization, and remain in a perpetual state of self-doubt. It is because of this state that they gain the power and vitality to persevere in their practices.
This exhibition attempts to produce a discourse around art history and the existing structure of institutions, hierarchies and authorities. It refuses to subscribe to the linear narrative of art history narrative method and intends to reveal that in different historical periods, different creative practices existed in parallel, rooted in a profound understanding of situations and things, and that there was not a relationship of causal inevitability between them. Their parallel existence came to form a planar art history, a plane formed from various creative and revolutionary historical moments. “Little Movements” are “small initiatives that can be instigated both from within and from outside institutions that break the bonds between subjects and institutions towards a production of knowledge that moves up against the hegemonic structures.”  One of the project’s aim is to re-examine the relations between subjects and institutions.
The publication Little Movements – Self Practice in Contemporary Art, arranges the practices covered by the project into four chapters: 1, The Anxiety of Self-Definition; 2, Individual Systems; 3, Away from the Crowds, Unexpected Encounters; and 4, What is Knowledge. This publication lies somewhere between an exhibition catalogue and a critical reader. A selection of theoretical and critical essays are included not to define or interpret the practices themselves, but offer views in parallel with the practices of these “little movements” to provide a theoretical context for them, a foundation for better understanding these practices.
The research process of this project has taken the form of a series of “round-table discussions” at the sites of the practices concerned, engaging the initiators, practitioners, participants, observers and critics in deep discussions about the background, trajectory, influence and underlying artistic ideals of these practices in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of each project’s context, the problems it aimed to solve and the issues that yet remain unresolved. Videos of these discussions will be presented at the exhibition.
The research and exhibition plan of Little Movements is not a historical retrospective, though it does touch on literary and artistic practices from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Nor is it a global assessment, though it does contain numerous practical cases from the United States and Europe. In these practices that cross time, regions and art scenes, we see parallelism, and that parallelism rests in the fact that these practices are not stressing limitless expansion but instead constantly deepening internal work. Some of these practices have already ceased, some haven’t been spread very far, and some have been mentioned before as landmarks in history, but overall, their importance to art in itself has yet to be adequately recognized or discussed. Some of the practices in Little Movements are based on perceptions of certain moments in history and deeply held ideals about the shaping of the art system; some are based on dissatisfaction with the context they are in and hope for a breakthrough. Regardless of their conditions and contexts of origin, their emergence and existence, they have or soon will provide fresh insight into our existing experience and open up new space.
“Little Movements: Self-practice in Contemporary Art” will present “Global Art and Museum”, They, Concept Store, Libreria Borges Institute of Art, Homeshop, Caochangdi Workstation, Polit-Sheer-Form Office, Once Is Nothing, Company, Copenhagen Free University, Small Productions, The Second World Congress of Free Artists, 1986 Zhuhai Slide Show, 51 square meter, Shuangbai Studio, Zhang Peili’s New Media Art Teaching Practice, and unitednationsplaza.
 Irit Rogoff, An Unruly Conversation About Curatorial Responsibility, THE CRITICS, THE CURATORS, THE ARTISTS, ROTTERDAM DIALOGUES, published by Witte de With Publishers, Page 125.