Urban Independent Space Practice--If the Compatible is Possible
Paul Devautour, Xia Yilan, Zhang Hanlu, Wan Quanguo
How far is art from the public? The different ideas towards art will always lead to a completely different response. How to integrate art into life into the public has always been a question worthy of serious consideration. With the practice of small art public space rooted into social life and its potential influence, we start to rethink what art is and what art can do, for this might provide a way between art and life.
Bazaar Compatible Program is one of the excellent examples. In September 2011, due to an accidental thought, Bazaar Compatible Program was launched in a small alley near Red Town and coexisted with groceries, laundries, food stores and vegetable markets. For more than five years, updating ongoing new art projects take place every two weeks in this tiny art space. Until the market closes, a total of 152 exhibitions have been held. During this period, art is not only shown in the small ‘cube’; Bazaar Compatible Program has been in touch with the other shops, tenants and customers in the market to form various interesting interactions with the external environment, to expand the possibility of the compatible, and to present another aspect of art.
This time we invite the founders of Bazaar Compatible Program, Paul and Yilan, and their friend Wan Quanguo, together with the curator Zhang Hanlu, to discuss the possibility of the integration of small art public spaces with popular life from a more open perspective through their own practice.
What makes the public space in the city full of vigor and vitality, and why the omnipresent small spaces in the city often directly affects the quality of life in the city? With increasing art spaces and unique artistic ecology inhabiting local communities and markets, an experimentality and inclusion is seen, placed and transformed, which brings and shows more possibilities for contemporary art to intervene in the community and daily creation. Having launched this series of discussions, we will continue to pay attention to the voices of these spaces, how they exist, function, ferment and shape themselves in the art system with their own uniqueness and vitality.
Deyi Studio was founded by Xia Yilan and Paul Devautour in Shanghai in 2008. It aims to intervene as a cultural operator by organizing cultural activities and discussions. Deyi Studio opened a small experimental space called Bazaar Compatible Program in a small alley in Shanghai, which works on the notion of compatibility, as a reversal of the notion of specificity, explores the possibilities of an unexhibited art practice, and also encourages different artists to show their own thoughts here.
Xia Yilan graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy majoring in Literature of Theatre, and then studied cultural industry management at the Paris IESA (L'école internationale des métiers de la culture et du marché de l'art). She has worked in the culture, tourism, education and other related departments of Chinese and French governments. Now she is responsible for Shanghai Deyi Culture and Arts Exchange Consulting Co., Ltd., which is devoted to promoting the exchange of culture and arts between China and France.
Paul Devautour was the director of École nationale supérieure d'art de Bourges, the professor of École nationale supérieure d’art de Nice – Villa Arson, and the research supervisor of École supérieure des beaux-arts de Marseille. He is currently the professor at École nationale supérieure d’art de Nancy and hosts the joint research project of the Offshore School in Shanghai of the French top ten national super fine art institutes, Creativity and Globalization.
Wan Quanguo was born in Wuhu in Anhui Province. He joined the army in 1982 and discharged in 1986 years. He strengthened his will in the army, learned how to behave, to be honest and sincere. He then worked as a physical education teacher in primary school for half a year. He came to Shanghai in 1996 and worked in the grocery opened by his friend near Shanghai Railway Station and also engaged into tourism. In 2013, he took over several grocery stalls in the Xinhua Commodity Market and operated until the end of June 2017 when the whole market was closed permanently.
Zhang Hanlu is an independent curator and editor of Artforum China. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago majoring Art History, Theory and Criticism. She was the winner of the second prize of IAAC in 2014 and the first prize of Emerging Curators Program in 2015. She has curated exhibitions in No Longer Empty, 49B Studios in New York, M50 Art Space, Power Station of Art in Shanghai and Yang Art Museum in Beijing. Her articles are published on LEAP, Ray Sight, Artreview Asia, art-agenda, and other journals and media.
Lin Ye is a translator and freelance writer. He mainly engaged in the research and translation of visual culture. His has translated Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Origins of Art, Phenomenon and 50 years of Japanese Photography, and co-translated The History of Japanese Art Photography. His articles are published on Ray Sight, Tencent Guyu, The Paper, ArtChina, ARTFORUM, Chinese Photography, POTOMEN and other media.