June 8, 2016 - Guangdong Times Museum - Operation PRD - Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows
June 8, 2016

Guangdong Times Museum

(1) Chen Shaoxiong, Street II, 1998. (2) Liang Juhui, One Hour Game, 1995. (3) Lin Yinlin, 100 Pieces and 1000 Pieces, 1993. (4) Xu Tan, Allegory of Love I, 1993. All images courtesy of the artists. 

Operation PRD - Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows
June 12–October 7, 2016

Book launch : July 15, 8:30–10pm, Active Withdrawals; Life and Death of Institutional Critique
Pro qm, Berlin, Germany

Guangdong Times Museum
Times Rose Garden III
Huang Bian Bei Road, Bai Yun Avenue North
510095 Guangzhou
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +86 20 2627 2363

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Participating artists: Chen Shaoxiong (1962), Liang Juhui (1959–2006), Lin Yilin (1964) and Xu Tan (1957)

Curated by: Hou Hanru, Nikita Yingqian Cai

The “Big Tail Elephants Working Group”(aka Big Tail Elephants), comprised of artists Chen Shaoxiong, Liang Juhui, Lin Yilin, and Xu Tan, was active during the 1990s in Guangzhou, the heart of the Pearl River Delta region. From 1991 to 1996, Big Tail Elephants self-organized five exhibitions in temporary spaces that varied from cultural palaces, to bars, as well as the basements of commercial buildings and outdoor venues. In 1998, collective presentations of the group's recent works were staged at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Kunsthalle Bern. After 1998, Big Tail Elephants received a number of invitations to participate in international exhibitions but stopped working together as a group.

The decade from 1990 to 2000 saw distinctive developments arise within the once-peripheral contemporary art scene of the Pearl River Delta region, viewed in part as a result of the combined forces of China's explosive economic growth also found throughout Asia in general—and the twin projects of modernization and urbanization. Witnessing and experiencing this complex set of realities, Big Tail Elephants strove for the autonomy and legitimacy of artists and artistic production, and made positive impacts on the cultural landscape of southern China in the 1990s.

Operation PRD - Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows has reproduced more than 20 of the group's works based on archives and documentary materials. “One Hour” is taken from Liang Juhui’s performance One Hour Game (1996) enacted in the elevator of a construction site in Guangzhou. “No Room” is responding to the group's fourth exhibition in 1994 which bore the same title. The title reflects the absence of contemporary art institutions and spaces in the 1990s, while also alluding to the guerrilla-style spontaneity of the group's exhibition initiatives. “Five Shows” emphasizes the five exhibitions organized by the group in non-art spaces between 1991 and 1996. Exhibitions and sites of action were thought of as laboratories for their artistic experiments, and these fleeting events offer prescient insight into the socio-political context of contemporary art in China after the 1990s, and its pointed and deliberate lack of ideological appeals.


Book launch of Active Withdrawals; Life and Death of Institutional Critique—with Lisa Rosendahl, Nina Möntmann, Ellen Blumenstein and Biljana Ciric
July 15, 8:30pm

Pro qm, Thematische Buchhandlung
Fezer, Reichard, Wieder GbR
Almstadtstr. 48-50
10119 Berlin

The publication originated from the seminar titled "Active Withdrawal-Weak Institutionalism and the Institutionalization of Art Practice," organized by Biljana Ciric and Nikita Yingqian Cai, between July 27 and 28 in 2013, which are part of the para-curatorial series initiated by Guangdong Times Museum. The publication aims at readdressing the importance of active withdrawal in comparison with the canonical narratives of institutional critique within the current global art system, where different protocols have been developed in response to diverse cultural-political contexts.

Contributing writers: Lisa Rosendahl, Nina Möntmann, Eva Gonzalez-Sancho, Ellen Blumenstein, Pelin Tan, David Teh, Alia Swastika, Maja Ćirić, Nikita Yingqian Cai, Reuben Keehan, Lina Džuverović, Biljana Ćirić, Antonia Alampi, Maria Lind, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Kathryn Meyer, Judy Freya Sibayan, Elena Filipovic, Zdenka Badovinac, Angela Harutyunyan

Co-edited by: Biljana Ćirić, Nikita Yingqian Cai
Design by: Toby Tam
Co-published by: Guangdong Times Museum and Black Dog Publishing in May 2016

Guangdong Times Museum
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