“Interventions in the Greater Bay: Reconstructing the Archives of Big Tail Elephant Group”
On the occasion of Art Basel Hong Kong 2023
With with Hou Hanru, independent curator and co-editor of the book, Pi Li, Head of Art, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Lin Yilin, artist and Big Tail Elephant member, and Nikita Yingqian Cai, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, moderated by Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive Hong Kong
Big Tail Elephant: Build and Resist, a collaboration between Times Art Center (Berlin) and the independent French publishing house, Les presses du reel, was published in March 2023. Edited by the internationally renowned curator and former artistic director of MAXXI, Hou Hanru, and Paris-based senior art journalist Yu Hsiaohwei, the book was designed by Berlin-based graphic designer Jianping He (Hesign). In addition to a rich and diverse collection of documents and images, the book also includes five commissioned insightful essays by Hou Hanru, Nikita Yingqian Cai, Chen Tong, Hu Fang and Anthony Yung, fully demonstrating the remarkably independent artistic thoughts, attitudes and practices of the four members of the Big Tail Elephant Working Group: Chen Shaoxiong, Liang Juhui, Lin Yilin and Xu Tan.
The idea for Big Tail Elephant: Build and Resist was born during the retrospective, Operation PRD – Big Tail Elephant: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows, curated by Hou Hanru and Nikita Yingqian Cai at the Guangdong Times Museum in 2016. Over the last three years of working on this book, TACB has benefited greatly from the Guangdong Times Museum as well as a constellation of individuals and institutions. The Big Tail Elephant Working Group was founded at the end of 1990 and existed until 2005, when the four members took part in an exhibition together for the last time (Liang Juhui and Chen Shaoxiong died in their prime, respectively in 2006 and 2016). Those 15 years also witnessed the drastic development and transformation of art and society in the Pearl River Delta region as well as in the whole of China. Big Tail Elephant stood out as a singular presence in the history of Chinese contemporary art, and even today, their artistic practices and thoughts still inspire us with their vision and vitality.
With the publication of Big Tail Elephant: Build and Resist, TACB continues its mission of providing a platform for research-based academic conversations, with a view to re-envisaging an understanding of Asian contemporary art in a global context. After TACB left its physical space in 2022, artistic director Xi Bei, together with the editors Yu Hsiaohwei and Hou Hanru, did all they could to complete this publishing project that had started years before.
Now that the book is published, we are holding a book presentation and talk event on March 25 at Art Basel Hong Kong. Titled “Interventions in the Greater Bay: Reconstructing the Archives of Big Tail Elephant Group”, the talk will be moderated by Anthony Yung, Senior Researcher, Asia Art Archive Hong Kong, with Hou Hanru, independent curator and co-editor of the book, Pi Li, Head of Art, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Lin Yilin, artist and Big Tail Elephant member, and Nikita Yingqian Cai, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, as panelists.
“Interventions in the Greater Bay: Reconstructing the Archives of Big Tail Elephant Group” will be held on Saturday, March 25, 2023, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (Hong Kong) at the Auditorium, N101B, Level 1, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information, see here.