“Displaying Contemporary Art in the 1990s in China”: An Archival Project

Issues such as the goals, organization, condition, and challenges of contemporary art exhibitions inspired many experimental artists, art critics, and independent curators working in the 1990s, leading to many interrelated activities and discussions. During this process a large number of original exhibitions were planned and staged, while many influential works were conceptualized and created for special exhibitions. All these issues point to “the problems of exhibitions” that not only pertain to exhibition per se, but also involve fundamental questions such as the function and meaning of contemporary art in China, and its relation to the society. Prior to the normalization of contemporary art in the early 2000s, these activities in the second half of the 1990s constituted an “exhibition moment,” with a force and concentration unparalleled in world art history.  
The objective of this archival project is to systematically collect, organize, and preserve documents and information concerning contemporary art exhibitions in the 1990s. This project originates from An Exhibition About Exhibitions: Displaying Contemporary Art in the 1990s (July-October 2016), an exhibition organized by OCAT Institute. As was proposed by the curator Wu Hung in the curatorial preface, the exhibition aims to generate a sustainable platform for the collecting of archival materials, in order to preserve the history and memory of ephemeral happenings for further historical research. We kindly invite you to participate in this project by providing documents related to contemporary art displays in the 1990s. All materials will be verified by the Institute and uploaded to an ever-expanding online database.
We are calling for materials including exhibition proposals, invitations, tickets and receipts, posters, catalogues, review articles, media reports, photographs, videos, important correspondences, recordings, and related memoirs. We mainly collect archival documents in electronic format rather than in their original format. Only under special circumstances will we consider preserving original files for artists or institutions.
This project commences in July 2016. The core structure of the database will be completed within two years, which will be continuously enriched and complemented with additions and adjustments. If you possess relevant documents and information or wish to establish connections, please contact us at:
Department of Archive, OCAT Institute
email: archive@ocatinstitute.org.cn
phone:+86 6737 5518