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Dawei Xu

Dawei Xu is faculty at the Beijing Film Academy in the area of New Media. As an international artist Dawei has shown his film works extensively as well as collaborated with many artist world wide. He is also a curator for exhibitions and theater performances, focusing on new media and experimental digital video.



Dawei Xu talked about the current trends in contemporary Chinese photography and films to our class. The issues most often addresses include: social reform and urbanization, national identity, ordinary life, female status, and the young generation born after the 'one child' policy. With the exception of the 'one child' policy, these themes often occur in work made by artist in the USA! The variety of styles, camera angles, sounds, textures, and concepts within the films he presented gave us an understanding of the high-caliber artists we would be collaborating with through the digital bridge!

During this guest speakers lecture I believe I was also documenting the event so I had to try and video record as well as pay attention at the same time. I really enjoyed the segment where Dawei Xu showed clips of experimental videos that Beijing Film Academy students had done in the past. It really got me excited to do collaborative work since video is in my area of study.

I was fortunate enough to see two presentations by Dawei Xu, one for this class and another in a critique theory class. He showed video and animation in one and photography in the other, and through both bodies of work (which he curated into shows), I felt I was given a good sense of the pertinent issues that current Chinese artists deal with. Chief among them seem to be the struggles and paradoxes of rapid national progress. These include urbanization, a rapidly shifting culture (the clash of the storied, ancient culture of China and it's new rise to prominence) and the generation after the One Child Policy. Also through him as well as other presenters (like Meng Tang), I gathered that the Chinese "fine art" world is somewhat split into the more commercial "academic" world and the much more experimental "underground" art. While America has it's own sub-categories of fine art (think Thomas Kinkade versus Ed Ruscha), the split there seemed to be more along the lines of our design and advertising world versus our fine art world. I also gleaned a sense of both the restrictions the social structure there causes as well as the misconceptions we in the west have about said "restrictions."

I was glad to be able to look at the videos by Dawei Xu that were playing at the East Regis building before he came to our class. It gave me a little insight on his ideas of urbanity and Chinese culture, as well as some curiousity to learn more about what was behind his ideas. I enjoyed seeing some of his other video projects he brought to show us in class.

It was very nice to have a BFA faculty member come to our class to speak about the art scene in China as well as show us his internationally exhibited work! Dawei Xu told us about how, due to how the Chinese Government works in China, there are a few good art school throughout the country and they are owned and run by the government. The competition to get into these schools is fierce. However, Dawei Xu explained, once a student got in, they were almost guaranteed to make money once they got out as the Chinese business would only contract/hire from these top school. The BFA is among these top chinese schools, which didn't surprise me having seen some amazing films come out of it in the past.
Dawei Xu also showed us some videos of his work. There was a clip showing him mixing videos and sound in a theater as a performance which I thought was extremely cool as I have never seen anything quite like it before.

I really enjoyed having Dawei Xu visit our class to tell us about trends in contemporary Chinese art. He showed us some fantastic video art coming out of the Beijing Film academy. I particularly loved a video by a colleague of his that showed people doing exercises early in the morning in the parks of Beijing-- it was a fascinating peek into Chinese culture.

The talk that Dawei Xu had with us was really informative in terms of showing how current film makers in China are dealing with the changing Chinese national identity. The animations that incorporated older folk-tales and elements of religion and cultural history alongside newer thoughts on Communism and the direction that china is headed as an emerging world power were particularly interesting to me.
Also the video installation/performance that had the artist mixing live and recorded audio with video images really opened my mind up in a "wow, people in China do that too" kind of way.