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Preview: May 3 Youth Art Festival

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Du Xi, Armored Division on the March
Du Xi, Armored Division on the March

Kunming's summer art season kicks off April 28 with Dream Journeys: May 3 Youth Art Festival. The group of events brings us a series of art exhibitions, performances and lectures spanning various mediums and bringing together artists from across the country and the world. Held primarily at the Think Tank Art Space inside the 108 Loft Complex, Dream Journeys features performance art events, art and photography exhibits, lectures, film screenings and a graffiti competition.

These events take place around town and throughout the month of May, but as the title suggests, the best day to take it all in will be May 3, when the entire 108 Loft area will be turned into a block party with multiple exhibition openings, a creative market, live music and activities for kids. The event begins at 10am with Dream Island, a Peter Pan-inspired interactive installation for kids. Dynamic Loft, an exhibition featuring works by a wide array of young local artists, will also be open throughout the day at several venues in 108 Loft.

The creative market, where local artists will be selling crafts, trinkets and artwork, will be open all day. Expect an appearance by the performance artists from the On the Clouds project. At 5pm, the exhibition Cross Sections, featuring process sketches from various Yunnan artists, will open at the Yunnan Craft Commune. We can also hope to see food, drinks and live music throughout.

Li Ji, Fishing Cat
Li Ji, Fishing Cat

The next day, May 4, should also be good. All of the exhibitions from the day before will still be open. The centerpiece of that day, and a major highlight of the whole festival, will be the live multimedia performance of File Zero, the controversial long-form poem by Yu Jian (于坚), pioneering avant-garde poet and Kunming hometown hero. This will take place at Think Tank Art Space at 8pm.

There will also be lectures, parallel exhibitions and assorted events throughout the month. I'm personally most excited by On the Clouds, the performance segment of the festival, and Dynamic Loft, the young artist invitational exhibition.

The performance art segment promises to be a high point of the festival. Curated by He Libin (和丽斌), this segment brings together a dozen established and emerging performance artists from Italy, Japan, Germany and across China for a series of events to take place in multiple locations around Kunming between April 29 and May 3. This is the latest installment in the multi-year project On the Clouds, in which performance artists travel and create together. The results of this year's travels will be on display at Think Tank Art Space May 5-19.

Huang Xin, A Glimmer of Sunset
Huang Xin, A Glimmer of Sunset

Complete list of events


Dynamic Loft — Young Artists Invitational Exhibition: May 3-30 (all day), 108 Loft Complex, buildings A, B, C and D. This exhibition, curated by Cheng Xi (程曦), will present the work of dozens of young Kunming artists in print, canvas, sculpture, installation and photography.

Cross Sections — Sketches by Yunnan Contemporary Artists: May 3-30 (5pm-late), 108 Loft Complex, Yunnan Craft Commune. Sketches and studies by important Yunnanese artists from just about every generation of contemporary art, including Tang Zhigang (唐志冈), Sun Guojuan (孙国娟), He Libin and Fu Meijun (付美军).

On the Clouds — Performance Art Series: May 5-19 (time and location TBD). Performance artists creating a series of collaborative works around Kunming. Documentary exhibition at Think Tank Art Space.

File Zero — A Long Form Poem: May 4 (8pm), Think Tank Art Space. Performance artists and musicians join poet Yu Jian in interpreting his controversial long-form poem File Zero.

Light and Shadow — Mobile Phone Photography: May 3-30 (all day), 108 Loft Complex, Building A-1F. Exhibition of mobile phone photography submitted by local residents.

Island of Dreams: May 3 (10am-6pm), 108 Loft Complex, Building A-5F. Peter Pan-themed interactive installation for kids.

Zhang Hua, sketch
Zhang Hua, sketch

Parallel events

In Search of Artists — Graffiti/Installation Art Competition: April 20-May 30 (all day), Think Tank Art Space.

Microscopic — Outstanding 2014 Short Films: May 3-30 (all day), 108 Loft Complex, Building A-5F.

Creative Market: May 3 (3-7pm), Think Tank Art Space.

Improv Music Performances: May 3 (3-7pm), Think Tank Art Space.

Photos of Fengning: May 29 (all day), Think Tank Art Space.

Wu Rongjie, In Time 1, 2 and 3
Wu Rongjie, In Time 1, 2 and 3

Lectures and related events

Cai Qing Performance Art Workshop: April 28 (10am), 108 Loft Complex, Building A, Yunnan Zhonglü Travel Agency. Renowned expert Cai Qing (蔡青) leads a workshop on performance art.

Lecture series number 1: May 1 (3pm), 108 Loft Complex, Mellower Café. Lectures The History and Status of Performance Art in Chengdu by Zhou Bin (周斌) and Live Elsewhere, Art Here by Ren Qian.

Lecture series number 2: May 2 (8pm), TCG Nordica. Lectures Performance Poetry and the Multidisciplinary Film Project "Five Year Plan for Happiness" by Luo Fei (罗菲), Body and Scene — Yunnan Performance Art Practices Since 2000 by He Libin and Body as Culture and Nature — Datong Dazhang and He Yunchang by Guan Yuda (管郁达).

Lecture series number 3: May 4 (3pm), 108 Loft Complex, Building D, Moni Hotel. Lectures Contemporary Art Practices in the Age of Mobile Internet by Lin Hanjian and Contemporary Art in Hong Kong by Xin Wangjun (信王军).

Every event listed is free and open to all, but please note, all lectures are in Chinese only.

Editor's note: Special thanks to Jeff Crosby, who is is a translator of Chinese art literature and a longtime Kunming resident. He can be contacted at Crosby Art. If you would like to submit an article for publication, please get in touch with us via the contact form.

Liu Guoqing, I'm Waiting Here for You
Liu Guoqing, I'm Waiting Here for You

Images: Dream Journeys: May 3 Youth Art Festival

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