ALTERNATIVE ART SPACES CHINA ART FAIRS
As well as representing the likes of Zheng Guogu, Koki Tanaka and the Yangjiang Group, China’s Vitamin Creative Space and its ethos is perhaps best observed in their recent collaboration with Cao Fei, Room 608. This “arts space as installation” could be seen at this year’s Frieze Art Fair in London.
Credited with raising the profile of new Chinese art in recent years, Guangzhou-based Vitamin Creative Space has built its reputation upon inhabiting both commercial and alternative space in China’s gallery world.
Growing out of Fei’s interest in exploring subjectivity and social interaction through virtual worlds and online Second Life games, Vitamin Creative’s appearance at the fair stood out by not appearing to sell or promote any individual works. Instead, after waiting patiently outside the cardboard façade constructed within the fair, visitors were invited group by group to wander, touch and contemplate the ephemera of Fei’s self-imagined “worlds”.
The small “pavillion” that represented the space at Frieze is typical of how Vitamin Creative’s important international presence is balanced by its focus on the unique experience of an artist’s work. This is clearly demonstrated in their mission statement: “actively challenging the preconception by merging [commercial and independent spaces], which traditionally are opposed strategies for supporting and presenting contemporary art.” Fei’s work, as much about the deceptive worlds created by video and online technologies as the “floating worlds” of light, pattern and surface, helps draw further analogies between spectatorship and participation.
More recently, Vitamin has demonstrated the extent of their diversity by opening an outpost in Beijing. The Shop, profiles work by its artists whilst exploring the format of the shop window and how “a commercial storefront can function as a public viewing platform.“ Whether in Beijing or at Frieze, the idea of environment is key to Vitamin Creative’s operations. For them, the inescapable confines of the market encourage “a process of endless movement and extension.”
By changing in form and appearance to adapt to the art market demands of the Frieze fair visitors were offered insight into the importance of adaptation in Fei’s practice. Within the room itself was a form of makeshift studio, “the atmosphere… is comprised of memories and emotions generated by the anonymous inhabitants of Cao Fei’s world.”
At Frieze Art Fair, Vitamin Creative challenged the art fair template by removing the emphasis from finished sellable artwork towards questions of involvement and experience. Due to the way in which artists such as Fei have benefited from their collaborations with this important arts space, Vitamin Creative’s enterprise continues to grow, adjust and evolve within the conditions of the Chinese and international art markets.
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- A perspective on Viewpoints and Viewing Points – 2009 Asian Art Biennale – January 2010 – an overview of the major Asian art biennale
- Questioning “Made In China” Interview Avant-Garde Beijing Artist: Huang Rui – October 2009 – Huang Rui discusses themes of commercialism in his work “Made in China”