UNSW Art & Design Present at 4A: Photographs, Photocopies, and Lianhuanhua: The Early Works of Wang Youshen, 1985-1990


SYDNEY. 6-8PM, THU 28 May.


Free but registrations required.

After the first electrostatic photocopier was successfully replicated in 1966, based on an imported Xerox photocopier, the Chinese photocopier machine industry continued to
develop, particularly from the mid-1980s. With relatively easy access, and a zeal for experimentation typical of the ’85 New Wave Movement, the use of photocopiers to produce new artworks emerged in the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. Having reopened in 1978, after the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, the CAFA curriculum encouraged artistic exploration in different media and materials. By examining works, particularly lianhuanhua “linked/serial pictures”, produced with a photocopier by Wang Youshen, then a student in the Nianhua (new year painting) and Lianhuanhua Department at CAFA, this talk investigates the combination of photography and photocopying as an experimental medium, and how reproduction endowed traditional genres such as lianhuanhua with a new “aura” in 1980s China. This talk argues that the way this new “aura” was generated by crossing over between media, materials and genres, broke boundaries in a manner typical of postmodern or contemporary art practices, and hence sheds light on the emergence of contemporary art in China from the 1990s.

About the speaker: 

Dr. Shuxia Chen
Shuxia Chen is an art historian and curator of Asian art. She holds a PhD from the Australian National University, an MA in Art History from the University of Sydney, and an MA in Studio Art (Honours) from Sydney College of the Arts. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary Chinese photography, artist groups, and post-socialist visual culture. Shuxia’s research has been published in journals such as Trans-Asia Photography Review, Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Made in China and Artforum. Since 2007, Shuxia has also worked with a range of museums and galleries in China and Australia as a curator and exhibition manager. Her current curatorial projects include: “A Home for Photography Learning” (Beijing and Hong Kong, 2018-2020), “Auspicious Beings” (Sydney, 2020-2021), and “Wayfaring: ‘70s and ‘80s Taiwanese Photography” (Canberra, 2020).


Presented by UNSW | Art & Design in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Series organisers: Prof. Paul Gladston and Dr Yu-Chieh Li

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Image: Wang Youshen, The Portrait Series: Materials, 1990, photocopied images and colour on paper.