Category Archives: Beijing

Young Project Profile: UNTITLEDdialogue

UNTITLED:dialogue is a one-year project organized by Jessie Yang and He Yu.

This duo met at New York Univeristy’s Steinhardt Graduate school for Visual Arts Management. Both originally from China, (Shanghai and Sichuan, respectively,) they had the idea to create a monthly forum for further dialogue that centered around Contemporary Asian Art being created locally, in New York. They have garnered a list of over 250 in their network, and growing. Their events have had between 70-80 people show up, which has increased from about 20 at the first event.

“We hope to create a space where artists and the public could meet and interact in an informal setting, with more possibilites for dialogue.”

He Yu (also known as Echo) says that attendees have loved the atmosphere for these events. The artists like the attention as well. Some of their artists are in temporary residencies in New York and are looking for opportunities to talk about their ideas outside of the immediate circle of the program they are participating in, and to broaden their network. The second artist in their series, Na Yingyu, is a video artist and connected with a documentary film maker at one event and has made plans to collaborate.

UNTITLEDdialogue, a series of cultural talks with Asian related artists, curators, writers, independent film makers, designers, architects and musicians in New York.”

When they came to New York, Jessie and Echo didn’t find a lot of events specific to Asian Art outside of the larger and more traditional institutions such as the Asia Society. Even less so when it came to contemporary art, including among commercial galleries.

By providing an informal setting, they have created a free platform around contemporary Asian work where they invite all kinds of international cultural dialogue to occur. For example, John Ransom Phillips was another one of the artists Ud has worked with, he is American and creates images that contain allusions to Chinese sub-text.

With one exception, so far, Ran Tea House has been hosting the Ud program. The tea house also has programming of their own, which is how Echo originally found them. After a screening of the recently released documentary on the work of artist Ai Weiwei she approached the owner, and because their ideas were so similar, it was a natural fit. They set up a schedule for the events, and it has been a smooth collaborative relationship ever since. The only negative aspect that Echo observed is that she would like to find a way to bring in more revenue for the Tea House, and artists.

Jessie has been contributing customized desserts for each event, including a Japanese theme for the event highlighting one Musician from Kagawa.

“I really enjoy making dessert for UNTITLEDdialogue. And I try to relate the dessert to the theme of the dialogue as much as I can. It just makes everyone happy. I would never have thought that studying visual arts would take me to such a new and unexpected path.”

Jessie has applied to a Pastry Arts program at the French Culinary Institute next March. “Though it seems that I found my true calling in cooking and baking, I still love art. And who says food is not art? It is absolutely a work of art.”

Jessie hopes to continue to find ways of blending visual and culinary art experiences after Ud concludes.

In the future, Echo is interested in organizing gallery tours and in-studio visits rather than a program located in a singular venue. One of their events already has taken place at an artist studio (as opposed to the Ran space). Although the different setting can pose logistical challenges, it has the benefit of combining the artist’s network more easily with the network they have been building.

Echo cited a female Taiwanese author, Chen Mao Ping, as a rare female artist icon whom she admired. The author’s published work can be found under the nickname “Sanmao”, and became popular in Taiwan and mainland China in the late 1970’s. She also became infamous for her alleged suicide in 1991.

When asked to share any words of counsel for practicing artists Echo urged that artists must take the time to look into themselves. Everyone is very creative in the art world and trying to assert themselves. You can be influenced by others so easily that it becomes very important to take the time to be introspective and know your own creative goals, and artistic character.

“On October 21st, we’ll present our sixth event with gifted jazz singer and composer Le Zhang. The event will commence with a Jazz performance, highlighting recomposed Shanghai pop music from 1930s and 1940s. The performance will be followed by a talk about the story of “Shanghai Jazz”, the historical and current Jazz scene in Shanghai, and progressive fusion of Western Jazz culture and Chinese pop music in 1930s.” Read More….

​​Time: Sunday October 21st from 16:00 – 18:00
Location: Ran Space, 269 KENT AVE.
(BTW S1 STR. and S2 STR.), BROOKLYN, NY, 11211

Related Links:
Ud on Facebook

When in Beijing: Three Shadows Photo Space…

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since I was in Beijing! If you happen to find yourself traveling there any time soon, please, do yourself a favor and check out the lovely Three Shadows art space. The building complex was designed by Ai Wei Wei’s architectural design company and is nestled in the Cao Chang Di Artist Village. Focused on Photographic work this was the most scholarly and expansive discipline-specific space I recall from my visit to The 798 district and Cao Chang Di village. It even has it’s own library and gift shop.

Check out their exhibition updates in English here.

Mixed Signals of Soft Power

From the title of this post you might think I am going to give dating advice, but no, I’d actually like to discuss Beijing’s Age of Enlightenment exhibit in their new National Museum at Tiananmen Square.

It seems odd (however typical) for the Chinese Government to allow this exhibition, inviting the ideas of the German Enlightenment – the very root of Democracy – to their political center, but then take extra measures to keep artists and intellectuals from experiencing the freedoms of that ideal.

Reading the subtitles will give a clear message in this report:

More on that topic discussed here with comments from direct sources:

It is what It is.

I once worked for a man whose mantra was “It is what It is”. It was his way of dealing with anything out of his control when he and his team had done all they could, but things still worked out other than the way he was hoping for. This is also a good mantra for China where “letting it flow” is a necessary survival tactic.

Last night I had dinner with some friends. We hoped to catch up on the last month-and-a-half; to share stories of travel and experience. After talking for quite some time – one of my friends leaned in and said “so, I can’t get a read on this – What did you think? Did you like Beijing?” I had to be honest. She was reading me correctly, and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure how I felt about my visit to the “Wild Wild East”.

Beijing, itself, being so different than any city I had visited; and the AIR residency being such a different situation that I had ever found myself in, as well… I think I still need more time to process.

As it turns out (not to be too dramatic) I find myself in some kind of confucian rabbit hole – hurling into a socio-philosophical conundrum where I can’t seem to reconcile what I learned and saw with the reality of my life. I seem to have no current choice other than to divorce myself from the pursuit of understanding culture and comparing values at all, and keep returning to extreme base principals of human to human  interaction as the only thing tangible and true. Even so, my instinct is to share with friends and family the stories that both affirm cultural assumptions and satiate the mind just about as much as  Travel+Leisure columns. It is easier.

But I feel like you, my readers, can handle this challange, so here are just a few of the contradictions and juxtapositions that are fighting over space in my mind: (more to follow, some images borrowed from co-residents via facebook.)


One of many 798 "white box" style galleries; Girl from adjacent Village whose play ground is the dirty street which leads collectors and tourists to similar art spaces


2 Chinese paintings derivative of European art history
local Cao Chang Di chaotic construction practices; and Ai Weiwei's clean architectural design


Polluted skyline; crisp national gallery presentation of history re-telling rather than arti-fact

I’m Back!

Hey Ya’ll, just got back from Beijing! (Some pronounce this “Bey-Jing”).

And, I gotta say – these blue skies are making me glad!

Here are just a few snap shots. As promised, more in-depth story telling to come:

(Collected photos from various residents.)


Our loving translator brings us lotus pods. 😉

The first day with the whole gang.

(Credentials will also follow soon.)

AIR Lectures were held at BASE in Cao Chang Di (CCD)

On the move!

A rare sighting of scenic blue sky.

“‘Best thing that ever happened to the ‘bird’s nest'”

^Some other residents goofing, in true China Tourism fashion.

A kernel planted in my mind

We had a day, walking around the gallery spaces in Cao Chang Di. Most notably was Chambers, which I will write more about once I can research a little, and Three Shadows photo center. But the image above struck a different chord.

Above is a painting by He Wenjue in an exhibit titled “Dinner Party in a Flourishing Age”. This focal point triggered a string of thoughts for me on feminism, and the female presence in the arts dialogue of China. For now I will just leave you with this image to ponder and I will build on it for future posts.