Wednesday, September 18, 2013

China unplugged

Speakers represent the dynamic and ever-changing country

Express Staff Writer

Art critic Jeff Kelley is giving a free lecture tonight, Sept. 18, on the Chinese artists from the New Wave of the late 1980s to the boom of the mid-2000s. Kelley was friends with the artist Ai Weiwei, peeking over his shoulder in this undated photo, for more than 25 years. Courtesy photo

    “Stories of a Changing China,” a three-month multidisciplinary exploration of contemporary China, goes live tonight with an art history lecture featuring Jeff Kelley.
    Kelley, a curator and an art critic, will present his lecture “Half-life of a Dream” tonight, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at The Center in Ketchum. Admission is free.
    “This lecture is going to be a wonderful opportunity to hear from an expert in the field about the huge shifts that have taken place in contemporary Chinese art over the past 30 years,” said Courtney Gilbert, curator of visual arts. “I think it will give a very insightful historical context for the work in the exhibition at The Center, which was all made in the last 10 years or so.”
    Kelley has written extensively about contemporary Chinese art and has also curated numerous solo and group exhibitions about art in China today for the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His lecture will examine the haunted and iconoclastic works of Chinese artists from the New  Wave of the late 1980s to the market boom of the mid-2000s.
    The current gallery exhibition at The Center features artwork by both Chinese and Western artists that comments on the current social and economic realities in China: the invasion of Western brands into China’s marketplace, the growth of manufacturing, the effects of China’s development on its landscape and cultural collisions between East and West. Kelley’s lecture will shed light on this diverse collection of photography, sculpture, painting and installation work and its significance in contemporary Chinese art.
    Then, Sept. 21-24, Wharton School professor Marshall Meyer will lead discussions on the social and economic realities of 21st-century China, with the first being “A Tale of Two Firms.”
    In “A Tale of Two Firms,” Meyer and participants will explore the leadership and strategies of two Chinese firms: one a firm steeped in Chinese culture that has become a world-famous brand; the other perhaps the most Western of large Chinese firms and also the first Chinese firm to achieve global dominance in its industry, even though its brand remains unknown beyond industry insiders. A key topic will be how United States and European Union firms can compete with these Chinese powerhouses.
    From Oct. 26-29, Meyer will lead another discussion, “Is It Capitalism?” in which participants will discuss different versions of Chinese capitalism: centrally managed capitalism, in which the Chinese government retains control over the largest Chinese enterprises; regional decentralized authoritarianism, in which local governments compete for revenues and economic growth; and bottom-up capitalism, in which small and medium-sized enterprises flourish as government influence recedes. Meyer and participants will consider what’s next for China and how the reverberations and spillovers could affect the United States.
    Participants can register for “A Tale of Two Firms” or “Is It Capitalism?” or combined admission for both seminars ($25 per two-class seminar for members/$40 for non-members, or $40 for both seminars for members/$75 for non-members—all four classes). Tickets are available online at or at The Center, 726-9491, ext. 110.

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