Image: Big-character Poster, 1986 © Wu Shanzhuan

Sacrificial practices in Chinese folk religion have changed over thousands of years. However, core concepts, objects, and rituals have, for the most part, remained the same. Since the second half of the twentieth century, gods have been absent from the official government position, but folk religious practices and art have continued, filling a social role. Artists in the 1980s and 1990s adopted elements from folk religion, and in doing so they unintentionally defined a collective method that contributed to the growth of the avant-garde. Behind the well-known narrative that these artists responded to their reality with radical work, there is a long, fraught history of folk art in relation to systems of authority. This research examines sacrifice in folk religion as a point of origin for Chinese avant-garde art, identifying it as a shared resource for artists as they constructed their visual and conceptual languages.

Mandarin, with English simultaneous interpretation

2 March 2021 (Tuesday)


Yang Zi, Beijing based researcher and independent curator, Recipient of the inaugural Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research 

Dr. Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial Affairs, M+

Event Platforms:
Zoom (With English simultaneous interpretation, click here for registration
Bilibili (In Mandarin only, click here to watch the live stream)


About the speaker:
Yang Zi received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies from Nanjing University and is currently an independent curator. He has worked in art criticism and curating for nearly ten years. From 2012 to 2014, he was an editor of LEAP, and he has written extensively for a range of publications, including Artforum China, Art Bank, Art Time, and LEAP. In 2015, after joining the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), he acted as executive editor on a series of catalogues for Wang Yin, Liu Wei, Xu Zhen, and Zeng Fanzhi and curated exhibitions and public programmes. In 2018, he became a curator and the head of public programmes at UCCA. His curatorial projects include La Chair, Secret Chamber, Pity Party, Land of the Lustrous, In Younger Days, and solo exhibitions of Zhao Bandi, Xie Nanxing, Wu Wei, Jiang Cheng, Xie Yi, Gao Yuan, Cai Zeibin, Chang Yunhan, Yang Luzi, Yu Honglei, Zhu Changquan, and 3d groups. He was a finalist for the Hyundai Blue Prize in 2017, and in 2019 he was one of the primary judges of the Huayu Youth Award.

About M+ Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research 2020:
The Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research is a new M+ programme held every other year to support new research on Chinese art, in dialogue with the M+ Collections. It is organised in parallel with the Sigg Prize, which recognises the best of contemporary art practices in the Greater China region. The fellowship corresponds with M+’s commitment to enriching the contemporary conversation on art in the region, and to defining new platforms for research and debate.

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