It is with profound sadness and the deepest condolences that we learned about the passing of artist Huang Xiaopeng in Berlin on October 7, 2020.
Huang Xiaopeng (born 1960 in Shanxi) was a renowned contemporary artist and art educator. Huang obtained his MA from the Slade School of Fine Art of the University College London in 1992 and was a professor at South China Normal University and a university fellow at Hong Kong Baptist University. He founded the HB Station (Contemporary Art Research Centre) in Guangzhou, and was the head of the fifth studio of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts between 2003 and 2012. His video and public installation works explore the problem of (mis)translation arising from cultural copy-transformation in the course of modernization; they also look into how we project others in (dis)location, and how such projection relates to the dilemma of globalization. Besides, his works push the relationship between language and everyday images to its limits to challenge the boundaries of meanings and, ultimately, the ‘correctness’ of our daily experiences.
Before his unexpected death, Huang Xiaopeng had been working closely with Times Art Center Berlin to plan for a new collaborative project, entitled FEAR, NO FEAR, to take place from January to May 2021. Initiated by Huang Xiaopeng, co-curated by Dorothee Albrecht, Antje Majewski, and Stefan Rummel, the project intends to present a prism of new perspectives on fear in our current era. It plans to unfold in three chapters and brings together artists of diverse international backgrounds, primarily from Berlin and Guangzhou.
Huang Xiaopeng’s death is a tragic loss not only for his family, friends, and students but also for his colleagues and the art scene, which have been enormously influenced by him over the past decades.
Hou Hanru, Huang Xiaopeng’s lifelong friend and the artistic director of MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art, wrote the following article in memory of Xiaopeng.
Unexpectedly, Xiaopeng has – as the title of one of his works K.O.H.D. reads – knocked on Heaven’s door and left us without saying goodbye last night. Words like “shock” and “grief” are not enough to describe our feelings at this moment. We are simply speechless.
Xiaopeng wandered about in the world throughout his entire life, and made himself at home wherever he was despite all odds. From Shantou to Guangzhou, from Hong Kong to London, he eventually almost settled down in Berlin. He had formed a family, but then had to restart from zero. Wherever he was, he was always trying to make a living in a sort of transitional state, to deal with different languages and all sorts of cultural differences, working hard to find a place where he could settle down, while at the same time being in the process of constant translations. It was this eternal seeking that gave him the exciting and elusive inspiration to tackle the most important problem in life, and this problem was art. His favorite line was “Art is a problem”. He concluded that the best way to solve the problem was to translate back and forth between languages, until the original meaning was completely lost, thus allowing the possibility of “fresh new meanings” to emerge. Rock n’ roll music video tapes and Google Translate’s “ability to create” provided him with the best materials and tools. Ultimately, through a post-Duchampian trick, he could “deconstruct these texts, and re-encode the time and space, resulting in mutual redefinition, constant accumulation and extension, so that these different contexts under the independent and unrelated elements collide with each other, and finally expand into the fragments of a whole, ending up being trapped in a language gap and lost in the infinite transmission of meanings. When translations all become political statements, Chinese and Western love songs will completely lose their original meanings in the new context, just like poetry in our age of absurdity.”All of Xiaopeng’s works consisted of transforming “Far East” to “法·伊斯特” (Fa-Yi-Si-Te, the phonetic translation in Chinese and “Far West” to “法·威斯特” (Fa-Wei-Si-Te). In a post-colonial, global and AI-dominated “age of absurdity” that only generates more absurdities, we are eternally doomed in this “contemporary utopia” and are falling into an ever-deeper abyss. And in this abyss, fear of fear has lost its meaning, we can only “climb the mountain together, with each doing his or her best.” Thus, when he was looking for the Chinese title for the exhibition he was curating in Berlin, he came up with “畏無所畏” (Fear No Fear). I believe that he feared no fear when he unintentionally knocked on Heaven’s door last night.
Rome, October 7th, 2020, 4 pm.
 Huang Xiaopeng, K.O.H.D. (From Far East to Far West), in Hou Hanru and Xi Beieds., The D-Tale, Video Art from the Pearl River Delta, Times Art Center Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2018, p. 244.
 Xiaopeng’s renowned and innovative teaching not only encouraged young artists to practice bravely, but also enabled them to face up to this absurd world freely and to fight to make a living through imagination and creativity.
 In my last conversation with Xiaopeng in Wechat (on October 2), he wrote, “The Chinese title of this project, ‘問你驚未’ doesn’t seem to convey the meaning of ‘Fear, No Fear’, isn’t ‘畏無所畏’ better?”
Times Art Center Berlin is excited to present the outcome of a new collaboration: Masks by Tailor Lê. These individually designed masks, made by tailor Lê and his co-workers in Berlin, reflect a unique dialogue between the German-Vietnamese tailor and Chinese-French artist Kim Hou. For her project ABOUT A WORKER, Hou worked remotely, during the coronavirus pandemic, with Times Art Center Berlin and tailor Lê to create three hundred handmade face masks.
Masks by Tailor Lê highlights the presence of the German-Vietnamese community to Berlin’s social fabric. With a long history of multiple waves of migration to both East and West Germany in the period after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese immigrants—a high percentage of which are self-employed and self-made business owners—have significantly contributed to the city’s creative energy and independent entrepreneurial culture. Based on the idea of giving artistic agency to workers and craftsmen, the joint project between Hou and tailor Lê reflects Times Art Center Berlin’s effort to foster new collaborative and local models of creative production.
“I am not worried about the future. People always need tailoring.”
Tailor Lê, born in Vietnam, arrived in Berlin in the last year of the GDR in 1988. Originally trained as an engineer in Vietnam, he has owned a restaurant and worked in the food sector and wholesale markets in Berlin for many years, before opening his successful tailor shop on Danziger Strasse six years ago. He learned the craft of tailoring early on in his life, as his mother was a seamstress.
ABOUT A WORKER
“COVID-19 keeps exposing the weaknesses of our globalised system. In a time, when our material needs are debatable, our global population should take this opportunity to meet and value the people willing to continue working for their territory(ies) and surrounding(s).’’ –Kim Hou
Founded in 2017 by Kim Hou (Creative Director) and Paul Boulenger, ABOUT A WORKER is a design studio giving manufacturing workers the ability to become designers. Through an introduction to creative expression, workers design products inspired by their vision of the industry and personal stories, using design as a universal language. ABOUT A WORKER’s creations question connect workers, designers, consumers in order to transform their context inclusively. Graduated in 2017 from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Kim Hou created ABOUT A WORKER as her graduation project: a platform to rethink the design industry of tomorrow. Through its complementarity with Kim’s artistic vision, Paul Boulenger has joined ABOUT A WORKER in 2017. Paul focuses on garment production methods by exploring current working conditions.
We are thrilled to become a new program partner with Berlin Art Week for the first time. Times Art Center Berlin is dedicated to diversity, multiculturalism, and connectivity, with a special focus on underrepresented Asian artists and art practices. We aim to provide a platform for a wide range of contemporary art practices and research-based discourses.
Can the black woman’s theory become a theory of the Global South?
Jun 05, 2020
In response to Saidiya Hartman’s Venus in Two Acts, Huang Kun asks: “Can the black woman’s theory become a theory of the Global South, of the South of the South? Can she be translated into our language? Who are we?”
During special times like this, we demand peace, kindness, and racial justice for all. The text is now available in Times Museum’s online journal – South of the South.
Times Art Center Berlin is pleased to reopen on May 30, 2020 with summer hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12 PM – 7 PM. We have also extended Zhou Tao: Winter North Summer South until August 1, 2020. To ensure a safe and healthy environment, we kindly ask you to book your visit in advance:
Times Museum recently released the first issue of online journal South of the South. It provokes multifaceted reflection on the accelerated state of the Pearl River Delta—now re as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area—as a scalable model of modernization in Asia and a test site of globalization in China, where circulation of labor, capital, bodies, rituals, objects, images, and ideas reveals invisible undercurrents of Southern geographies and visions.
Times Art Center Berlin celebrates its first anniversary with friends and books – come join us! Exactly one year ago, we opened to the public with our inaugural exhibition The D-Tale: Video Art from the Pearl River Delta, curated by Hou Hanru and Xi Bei, at Potsdamer Strasse. This summer, we moved to our permanent location at Brunnenstrasse 9 in Berlin-Mitte and opened the group show Neither Black / Red / Yellow Nor Woman curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Xiaoyu Weng.
On the occasion of our first anniversary, we would like to take the opportunity to present our first exhibition catalogue The D-Tale: Video Art from the Pearl River Delta published by Sternberg Press this year. Through four essays by critics and curators, as well as texts and images of the works on exhibit–more than eighty works by nearly sixty artists, the book aims to present a vital component of the Chinese art world which is under-represented on the global art scene, namely the contemporary art production from the Pearl River Delta.
In celebrating our anniversary, we will award 12 people with one free copy of the The D-Tale publication each.
Floating Constellation: Border-Crossing Exchanges Within and Beyond Asia
Sep 28, 2019
The 8th Para-curatorial Symposium
Curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Mia Yu
Contributing Speakers: Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu, Yongwoo Lee, Pan Lu, Seng Yu Jin, Shen Xin, Ming Tiampo, Abhijan Toto, Chương-Đài Võ, Emily Wilcox, and Ling Zhang
Exchanges of thought lines, images, and bodies across regions in Asia had existed prior to the colonial trade and were fostered by the trans-regional flow of materiality and labor before and during the Pacific War. At the peak of the nationalistic and modernist movements in the 20th century, Asian artists embarked on trips to study in Europe, Japan, and later in the United States, and demonstrated what Kobena Mercer called “syncretic vitalism,” which resulted in a multi-directional dissemination of ideas and forms. After World War II ended, an inter-Asia network of diplomats, thinkers, and artists ascended alongside the cultural events sanctioned by the young modern states, and constituted a floating constellation of shifting national borders. Such history and diverse routes of encounter within and beyond Asia have been heavily overshadowed by the ideology of the Cold War, which simplifies the interwoven processes as antagonistic camps.
In view of this, scholars, researchers, and artists have taken upon themselves to investigate and explore some of the correlated conceptions manifested in dance, film, popular culture, pedagogy, exhibition history, artistic movements, and individual cases. Examples include the didactics of realism and the abstraction of the political, the emerging individualism and the collective empowerment, “art for the people” and “art for art’s sake,” and so on. They are often driven by the antithetical forces of postcolonial modernity, among them the transnational solidarity and the imperialist hierarchy, the leftist imaginaries and the push for economic development, the Asian identification and the universalist discourse, the democratic movements and the rise of authoritarian regimes.
In this two-day symposium, ten speakers are invited to unfold their interrogations in four different panels: “Inter-Asia Networks: Connectivity and Circulation”; “Whose Asia? Whose Art?: New Collectivism and Internationalism in the Postwar Era”; “Between Singing Diva and Political Shaman: Femininity as a Critical Agent”; and “Storytellers on the Road: New Practices.” The historical and speculative perspectives of the assembly attempt to cast light on the porous processes of the cross-border exchanges and to complicate our understanding of the post-Cold War reality beyond the East-West dichotomy.
The Para-curatorial Series
The para-curatorial series is initiated by Guangdong Times Museum and Nikita Yingqian Cai, the chief curator of the museum, and is a discursive platform that aims at situating the critical mediation of art within a broader social, economic, and cultural context. The para- of “the curatorial” designates the multiplicity of curatorial practices as transdisciplinary forms of visual production and knowledge exchange, which challenge the politics of representation and paradigm of exhibition making. By activating such assemblies and encounters, the temporary institution becomes a mobile coalition of community center, laboratory, and academy. Past events of para-curatorial series include: No Ground Underneath: Curating on the Nexus of Changes (2012), Active Withdrawal: Weak Institutionalism and the Institutionalization of Art Practice (2013), Cultivate or Revolutionize? Life between Apartment and Farmland (2014), Between Knowing and Unknowing: Research in-and-through Art (2015), Reciprocal Encounters: The Enactment of Collecting and its Modes of Representation (2016), and In the Name of “Archive”: Re-imagining History as Contemporary Art Practice (2017) and South of the South: Rhetorics of Geography and Imageries of Delinking (2018).
After its first year of experimentation through exhibitions and public programs, Times Art Center Berlin opens its permanent location at Brunnenstr. 9 in Berlin-Mitte. Times Art Center Berlin is the first parallel institution founded by an Asia-based art museum overseas.
Operating as an independent and self-governed organization, it intends to explore new models of developing Asian contemporary art institutions both in Europe and the world — through exhibitions, research, productions, screenings, public educational programs, artist residencies and publications. Additionally, Times Art Center plans to collaborate on a regular basis with local artists, curators, intellectuals and institutions via dynamic research to provide a platform of academic discourse and artistic production for Chinese, Asian and international artists.