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An Artist Produced by His Company: Interview with Xu Zhen

When Xu Zhen established MadeIn Company in 2009, he announced the dissolution of his own artistic identity; later he asserted that Xu had become a corporate brand. In the six chapters of this videotaped conversation with Yu-Chieh Li, Xu discusses his practices in relation to MadeIn’s operations, which, from research and production through marketing and sales, serve Xu’s projects. (The company’s newly opened gallery in Shanghai will also represent other artists.) What are the implications of an explicitly corporate art practice, and are there precedents for this model?

This interview brings into focus different moments in Xu’s career. His experience of censorship and his early performance works, laced with sex and violence, reflect the links between his art and the sociopolitical environment in which it developed. In the late 1990s, for example, when the now internationally acclaimed artist was unknown and China’s art market had not yet surged, he resorted to smuggling his work into a group show. With MadeIn Company, Xu aims to surmount the problems that artists face in a society where cultural institutions are still held back by the state.

The interview was conducted at MadeIn Company in July 2014.

Author

Yuchieh li

Yu-Chieh Li

Former Andrew W. Mellon C-MAP Fellow at The Museum of Modern Art Yu-Chieh Li was the Andrew W. Mellon C-MAP Fellow for the C-MAP Asia group from October 2013 to September 2015. At the Museum, she was a co-editor of post and organized... Read more »
Screen shot 2014 11 30 at 9.54.47 pm

Xu Zhen 徐震

Artist Xu Zhen (born in Shanghai, China, 1977), is a contemporary artist with an insatiable appetite for global information, and the unique ability to produce work across... Read more »
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An Artist Produced by His Company: Interview with Xu Zhen

When Xu Zhen established MadeIn Company in 2009, he announced the dissolution of his own artistic identity; later he asserted that Xu had become a corporate brand. In the six chapters of this videotaped conversation with Yu-Chieh Li, Xu discusses his practices in relation to MadeIn’s operations, which, from research and production through marketing and sales, serve Xu’s projects. (The company’s newly opened gallery in Shanghai will also represent other artists.) What are the implications of an explicitly corporate art practice, and are there precedents for this model?

This interview brings into focus different moments in Xu’s career. His experience of censorship and his early performance works, laced with sex and violence, reflect the links between his art and the sociopolitical environment in which it developed. In the late 1990s, for example, when the now internationally acclaimed artist was unknown and China’s art market had not yet surged, he resorted to smuggling his work into a group show. With MadeIn Company, Xu aims to surmount the problems that artists face in a society...

Show More

When Xu Zhen established MadeIn Company in 2009, he announced the dissolution of his own artistic identity; later he asserted that Xu had become a corporate brand. In the six chapters of this videotaped conversation with Yu-Chieh Li, Xu discusses his practices in relation to MadeIn’s operations, which, from research and production through marketing and sales, serve Xu’s projects. (The company’s newly opened gallery in Shanghai will also represent other artists.) What are the implications of an explicitly corporate art practice, and are there precedents for this model?

This interview brings into focus different moments in Xu’s career. His experience of censorship and his early performance works, laced with sex and violence, reflect the links between his art and the sociopolitical environment in which it developed. In the late 1990s, for example, when the now internationally acclaimed artist was unknown and China’s art market had not yet surged, he resorted to smuggling his work into a group show. With MadeIn Company, Xu aims to surmount the problems that artists face in a society where cultural institutions are still held back by the state.

The interview was conducted at MadeIn Company in July 2014.

Chapter One: The Rise of Contemporary Chinese Art?

Chapter Two: My First Exhibition

Chapter Three: MadeIn Company Plays Multiple Roles—That of Producer, Seller, Artist and Art Museum

Chapter Four: Being a "Chinese" Artist

Chapter Five: Stories on Censorship

Chapter Six: Early Performance Works

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