Cookies and Privacy

The University uses cookies on this website to provide the best experience possible including delivering personalised content on this website, other websites and social media. By continuing to use the site you agree to this, or your can go to our cookie policy to learn more and manage your settings.

Conferences and events

The 13th Annual CCVA Conference: Transcultural Curation: China as a Method
Date and time
06 - 07 Nov 2020 (9:00am - 5:00pm)

London Whitechapel Gallery

77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX

To be announced.

The 13th Annual Conference

Transcultural Curation: China as a Method

Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA), Birmingham City University, in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies.

This two-day conference invites researchers, curators, artists, designers and practitioners at all stages of their careers to reassess the significance of transcultural curation of contemporary Chinese art in a global context.

The idea of the ‘transcultural’ is currently gaining momentum in academic, curatorial and artistic contexts, providing a framework for thinking through non-hegemonic global exchanges and knowledge production. Highlighting entanglements between and within cultures, the transcultural provides a new set of ethical, methodological and theoretical concerns, as well as a timely platform for curatorial and artistic practices in the globalised art world. What does the transcultural mean in the Chinese context? How do exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art engage with the idea and possibilities of transcultural curation, and with what kinds of political imaginaries? In what ways is Chinese contemporary art mobilised through international exhibitions situated in between institutional, commercial, independent art spaces and beyond?

Drawing on the rich history and debates on decolonial approaches that move beyond binaries and static positions of East-West, for example in the interventions of Mizoguchi Yuzo (China as Method, 1989) and Kuan-Hsing Chen (Asia as Method, 2010), we are exploring innovative discussions and methodological approaches in curatorial research and practice. This conference seeks to open up new modes of enquiry within the fields of art, design, curation, visual culture and cultural studies in China.

Possible perspectives for proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • Curating China and its contemporary art
  • Transcultural curatorial practices
  • Production, dissemination, participation and reception of Chinese contemporary art in a global context
  • Relations between transcultural exhibitions and globalisation
  • Tensions between the local and the global
  • Art, flows and migration
  • Chinese contemporary art in the international arena, biennales and triennials.

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words, a 100-word biography, contact information and any institutional affiliations, by 24 April 2020 to, with a subject titled ‘13th CCVA Annual Conference’. Any general queries should also be directed to Conference presentations should last no more than 20 minutes. Successful proposals for conference contributions will be notified by 1 May 2020. Invited full papers will feature in the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) and should be submitted by 1 March 2021, for a special issue in autumn of that year edited by Prof. Jiang Jiehong and Dr. Nuria Querol.

Past events

The CCVA Annual Conference is constructed as an international platform to bring scholars and research degree students together, primarily within the network, to discuss recent research development, share knowledge and exchange research experiences, and to expand expertise within the interdisciplinary community.

The 12th Annual Conference

Urban Transformations and Contemporary Art in China

Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Shanghai-Liverpool twinning cities in 2019, we are now convening the 12th CCVA Annual Conference in collaboration with Tate Liverpool. This two-day event invites researchers, curators, artists, designers and architects in the fields of art, design, visual culture and urban studies at all stages of their careers worldwide to reassess the significance of the urban transformations in China, and to reflect upon their impact on everyday experience and artistic and curatorial practices in the globalised world.

In recent decades, China has experienced a revolutionary urban development. The incessant changes have shaped a moving reality, almost illusive, beyond the normal and tangible environment of daily life. The rapidity of today’s urbanisation is a global issue, and yet the example of contemporary cities in China is singular, filled with excitement and anxiety. Histories have been destroyed, and heritage and memories are being reinvented for the future. How do we re-examine the triumph of economic achievement and urban development, or the loss, through sociological, anthropological, cultural and artistic perspectives? For those insiders – artists who are living through the accelerated development and its disturbance, how to capture and interpret the transient, to respond critically to such an urban existence, and to imagine a unique or almost surreal experience in China?

The 11th Annual Conference

Everyday Legend: Reinventing Traditions in Contemporary Chinese Art

Date: 10 – 11 September, 2018
Venue: School of Art, Birmingham City University

During the early development of the People’s Republic of China, major cities were industrialised and historical architecture was severely neglected. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) provided an extraordinary example of political mobilisation directed against the material and cultural vestiges of the past. Since the 1980s, the pace of globalisation and the force of its reshaping influences have posed a serious threat to the sustainability of Chinese traditions, as Western culture has permeated Chinese cities with internationalisation. Urbanisation and tourism has turned Chinese traditional art and crafts from indigenous to touristic and commercial, from the local to global. Today in China, much of what is described as traditional is no longer part of an everyday reality, but is instead an item of material culture ranging from discrete displays of museum cases to monumental structures of historical significance.

To reflect critically upon this cultural anxiety, will tradition reinvent the past for the future and translate from China to the world? Tradition stands in the first instance for the heritage including its intangible dimensions of cultural activities and products whose possible extinction is now sharply profiled by relentless social adjustments to standardised industrial production, transnational distribution, mass marketing, centralised media flows, and patterns of imagination that stress the global ahead of the national ahead of the local.

This unique situation in China provides contemporary artists with challenges and opportunities, as traditions are constantly reassessed and reinvented. Looking towards the fragmented traditions, artists stand in various positions favourable to reimagining, appropriating and subverting the processes that traditional art and crafts have long used, harnessing their symbolic potential and exploiting their cultural resonances. Through their practices, artists re-examine, draw from and are inspired by traditions, including techniques, forms and materials, as well as aspects of their intangible cultural heritages, critically reflect upon their current situations and its implications to the present and future, and ultimately, reposition Chinese contemporary art in the international arena.

This conference aims to reassess the cultural significance of these everyday traditions relevant to China and to the world today, and in particular, responding to the relationship between contemporary art and traditional arts and culture in China. We encourage innovative and interdisciplinary perspectives, including art, social sciences, anthropology, visual and material culture and tourism, in order to develop new understandings of Chinese contemporary art in the context of globalisation.

The 10th Annual Conference

Chinese Art Outside the Art Space

Thursday and Friday, 12-13 October 2017, School of Art, Birmingham City University, Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BX, England

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture through interdisciplinary practices and theoretical studies. During its first decade, CCVA has established a unique position in the UK to pioneer the research in the field. We are now convening this two-day Annual Conference to invite researchers, curators, art historians, critics and artists at all stages of their careers worldwide to contribute to the topic, marking the 10th anniversary of the Centre.

Historically, in China, ‘art outside the art space’ can be understood as both a cultural and a political proposition. From a cultural point of view, the notion of public ‘exhibition’ is entirely Western, whilst in the Chinese tradition of literati art for example, artworks were made, shared, and appreciated within the form of scholarly ‘elegant gathering', which was essentially a kind of private (rather than public) event within secluded (rather than institutional) spaces. From a political perspective, the ‘outside-ness’ immediately relates to the ‘unofficial’ status of contemporary Chinese art from its early development. For example, the first Star Group exhibition in September 1979 – generally acknowledged as the very first show that marked the beginning of contemporary art in China – was staged in a small public park just next to the China National Art Museum, outside the legitimated and official art space. Today, the situation of Chinese art taking place outside the museum and gallery spaces continues, but with a completely different momentum and agenda.

Art has been produced site-specifically for the spaces other than art institutions in China, including those of working venues, shown in a range of alternative spaces beyond galleries or museums, and has ‘happened’ in the public sphere and become political or social ‘events’, or artistic ‘incidents’, as a special form of ‘exhibition’. Creative curatorial and artistic strategies have been developed to respond to the constraints of art institutions, censorships and at the same time, to push the boundaries of art. Focusing on art made, displayed, performed or executed outside the conventional venues of art museums and galleries, this conference not only offers a unique perspective to understand Chinese art in the contemporary context, but also, more importantly, it aims to critically reflect upon the understandings between art and art exhibition, between artistic productions and audience perceptions, and between art and our daily life.

The 9th CCVA Annual Conference Whitechapel Gallery logo CCVA 9th Annual conference

Making the New World: 
The Arts of China's Cultural Revolution

11-12 November 2016
In collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery
Zilka Auditorium, Whitechapel Gallery, London, E1 7QX

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery, we are now convening this two-day international conference as the ninth CCVA Annual Conference. It invites researchers, artists, designers, curators and practitioners at all stages of their careers worldwide to reassess the significance of the arts and culture of the cultural revolution, and to reflect upon their impacts on everyday life in China within socio-political, cultural and global contexts.

Invited full papers should be completed by 20 December 2016 to be featured in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) as a special issue in 2017.

The 8th CCVA Annual Conference

Transdisciplinary China: Research in Practice

22 October 2015, 10am - 7pm
The Shell, Parkside Building, Birmingham City University (BCU), UK

A one-day symposium that seeks to interrogate the nature and significance of transdisciplinary research and arts practice in and about contemporary China, its arts and culture.

Jonathan Harris, Professor in Global Art and Design Studies at Birmingham City University will deliver the keynote address entitled The Global Asian Contemporary Art World: Analytic PerspectivesSHEN Xin, CCVA and Chronus Arts Center fellow will present Shoulders of Giants with Professor Johnny Golding, Philosopher and Director of the PhD/Post-doctoral Centre for Fine Art Research at Birmingham City University, alongside presentations and panel discussions from established and emerging researchers, artists, curators and academics from UK, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, Russia, Poland, Italy amongst others. Collectively these will serve to generate discussion and enable us to identify common areas of interest and communities of practice; to share, encourage and support new research as it happens with a global audience.

The event will consider:

  • The nature and the significance of transdisciplinary research and practice, and how these dialogues create new knowledge;
  • The importance, impact, influence and potential of transcultural research;
  • New ways of framing and discussing Chinese Contemporary Arts that moves beyond the traditional East/West paradigm;
  • The significance of practice-based and practice-led research in relation to Chinese contemporary arts and culture. 
Watch the event archive online:

Zara Arshad - Claudio Beorchia - Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska - Menene Gras Balaguer - Olga Makshanova - HUNG Keung - Tobia Maschio - Kira Simon-Kennedy - TANG Siyun - ZHU Xiaowen - ZHANG Qinghong - Heather Connelly - Rachel Marsden- JIANG Jiehong.

Download the conference programme

The 5th CCVA Annual Conference

Yingxiang Today

13-14 October 2011
Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing 

Yingxiang in Chinese, literally means shadow (ying) and image (xiang), and can be referred to as photography, video, film, and digital images, either still or time-based. Having its ambiguity of reference to a particular medium, it creates an opportunity to break the traditional boundaries between disciplines. Today, photographic and moving images have occupied all of our sights, from public to private spaces, and flashed through all kinds of screens, large or small. They have produced a different kind of daily life together with new social relationships. Contributors are invited to focus on the notion of yingxiang in relation to memories, urban development, mass or participatory art, social media, politics of spectatorship, and its new understanding and development in the context of art education.


Dr GAO Shiming (CAA) - GAO Shiqiang (CAA) - Professor Gu Zheng (School of Journalism, Fudan University) - Dr JIANG Jiehong (BIAD) - Professor Mark NASH (Royal College of Art) - PI Li (CAFA) - WANG Chuan (CAFA) - LUO Tianran (BIAD) - Rachel MARSDEN (BIAD) - MIAO Xiaochun (CAFA) - Professor Darren NEWBURY (BIAD) - Nuria Querol (Royal College of Art) - Professor Olivier RICHON (Royal College of Art) - TANG Xiaolin (CAA) - ZHENG Bo (CAA) - ZHOU Shiyan (CAA)

The 4th CCVA Annual Conference

Art in the Public Realm: Mass Culture and Identity

20-21 November 2010
China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

The Fourth Annual CCVA Conference

The following perspectives were suggested, including public space and mass art; public realm and virtual reality; participatory art and popular culture; collective identity in mass movement, and contemporary art biennials/triennials in daily life.

4th CCVA conference

Following the Third CCVA Annual Conference, this event was held to continue the discussion on ‘art in the public realm’, and to provide an opportunity particularly for current doctoral students within the partnership institutions, to share their recent and relevant studies.

The contributions of the Third and Fourth CCVA Annual Conferences will be selected and edited for a book published by China Academy of Art Press in September 2011.


HAN Xu (CAA): Better City Better Life – Contemporary City and Its Identity HANG Hai (CAFA): World University Games Identity Design

Lorna HARDS (BIAD): Public Art and Strategy in Birmingham, 1985 to the Present

HU Yijia (CAA): Public Art Strategy in the Urban Development of Contemporary China

Rachel MARSDEN (BIAD): ‘Translating’ Contemporary Chinese Art – Curating for the Public Audience

Professor WANG Zhong (CAFA): A Misread Public Art

XUE Zhaohui (CAA): Greenberg’s Misuse of Kant on Mass Art

Professor YANG Jinsong (CAA): Visual Culture and Art Education during the Development of Urbanisation

Professor YANG Qirui (CAA): the Zhejiang Pavilion at Shanghai EXPO

YE Yun (CAA): Art Management in the Public Realm

ZHANG Wensong (CAA): the Value of Performance Art

ZHAO Huasen (CAA): An Experience of Immersion – from Yungang Caves to Shanghai EXPO

The contributed papers of the Third and the Fourth CCVA Annual Conference are to be published as a book in October 2011 by China Academy of Art Press.

The 3rd CCVA Annual Conference

Public Space, Art and Collective Memory 

9-10 November 2009
School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham

The Third CCVA Annual Conference was hosted by School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. It provides an interdisciplinary framework for discussion focused on the notions of public space, socially and politically based art, and collective memory. It will examine such issues as definitions of public space; its function in daily life, particularly in China; the role of socially and politically engaged art in the development of public space; public sculptures and monuments; performance art; the role of public art and the visual environment in the creation and revision of collective memories; the ambiguous roles of both artists and viewers as creators and observers of public space; and the use of participatory art projects to encourage new social relationships.


Professor John AIKEN (Slade School of Fine Art, University College London): What Makes Successful Public Space?

Francoise DUPRE (BIAD): the Practice of Memory and Its Ethics

Dr Sian EVERITT (BIAD): Archiving Public Art: Public Art as Archive

Dr GAO Shiming (CAA): Nowhere, Now Her – from the Suspension of Utopia to Public Participation

Professor MAO Jianbo (CAA): Chinese Painting – An Expression of Memory, from Private to Collective

QIU Zhijie (CAA): Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge – the Shadow of A Monument

Professor Nick STANLEY (BIAD): Public Representation of Ethnic Minorities in China in the Past and the Present

Professor SUI Jianguo (CAFA): Personal Practice for Memorising – Constructing and Reshaping the Public Spaces

Professor Richard WENTWORTH (Royal College of Art): Who Does Private? What Is Public?

Professor YIN Shuangxi (CAFA): the Monument to the People’s Heroes

Professor XU Jiang (CAA): Reflections between Site and Memory

The 2nd CCVA Annual Conference

Doctoral Research in Art and Design II

8-9 November 2008
Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

This CCVA Annual Conference continues as the second half of discussions on doctoral education in art and design. It also creates opportunities for supervisors and research degree students to exchange research and supervisory experiences.


Professor John BUTLER (BIAD) - Professor CAO Yiqiang (CAA) - Professor Chris O’Neil (BIAD) - Professor JIN Zhilin (CAFA) - Professor LI Kuizheng (Institute of Fine Arts, Central University of Nationalities) - Professor LIU Jude (Institute of Art and Design, Tsinghua University) - Professor LONG Xiang (CAA) - Professor MAO Jianbo (CAA) - Professor PAN Gongkai (CAFA) - Professor QIU Zhenzhong (CAFA) - Professor SONG Jianming (CAA) - Professor SUN Jingbo (CAFA) - Professor WU Haiyan (CAA) - Professor ZHANG Xiaolin (China National Academy of Art) - Professor ZHONG Han (CAFA)

The 1st CCVA Annual Conference

Doctoral Research in Art and Design I

19-20 May 2007
China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

The First CCVA Annual Conference aims to provide a forum to initiate a dialogue between China and Britain on the doctoral education in art and design. Contributors are encouraged to discuss and share their understanding and experience in the following areas: 1) historical development of doctoral education; 2) current governmental strategy of doctoral education; 3) definitions of doctoral studies; 4) research proposal in art and design doctoral studies; 5) research methodology in art and design doctoral studies; 6) the role of visual practice in art and design doctoral studies; 7) evaluation and examination of art and design doctoral studies; and 8) ethic issues in art and design doctoral studies.


Professor Cao Yiqiang (CAA) - DU Jueming (CAFA) - Professor Fan Jingzhong (CAA) - HUANG Binbin (CAA) - Dr Jiang Jiehong (BIAD) - LENG Jian (BIAD) - Professor Luo Shiping (CAFA) - Professor Mao Jianbo (CAA) - Professor REN Daobing (CAA) - Professor Song Jianming (CAA) - Professor Nick Stanley (BIAD) - WAN Muchun (CAA) - Professor Wang Guoliang (CAA) - Professor Wu Haiyan (CAA) - Professor Xu Jiang (CAA) - Professor Xu Ping (CAFA) - Professor XUE Yongnian (CAFA) - Professor Yuan Yunsheng (CAFA) - Professor Zhang Lichen (CAFA)

CCVA Symposium

Photography Education in Contemporary China

19 November 2010
Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing

This half-day symposium was held at the venue of the opening of the two exhibitions, Beyond Memory and I Change Therefore I Am, at the CAFA Art Museum. It aimed to review the decade development of CAFA Photography since its establishment in 2000, and to examine contemporary photography practice in the context of art education.


HU Jieming (Shanghai Academy of Visual Arts) - LIU Zheng (Independent Artist) - Professor MA Gang (CAFA) - MA Yong (Chinese Photography) - Siegfried Manietta (Queensland College of Art, Griffith University) - MIAO Xiaochun (CAFA) - Professor PAN Gongkai (CAFA) - Professor TAN Ping (CAFA) - WANG Chuan (CAFA) - Dr WANG Chunchen (CAFA Art Museum)

CCVA Symposium

Visual Practice and Curatorial Perspectives of Contemporary Chinese Art Today

1 November 2008
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), Birmingham

This one-day symposium featured a range of leading scholars and curators both from China and the UK, discussing current developments in Chinese contemporary art, visual culture and curatorial practice in relation to rapid economic development and social change. Through a variety of perspectives, speakers shared their recent experience, understanding and reflections on contemporary Chinese art at present, explore particularly the themes highlighted in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's Beijing Map Games exhibition, and critically reassess the curatorial strategy of contemporary Chinese art in the international arena.


Professor Craig CLUNAS (University of Oxford) - Dr GAO Shiming (CAA) - Nigel PRINCE (IKON Gallery) - Karen SMITH (Independent Curator)