XU Tan

—I Felt It That Day  (2016-2019 ) , video still, courtesy of the artist

—I Felt It That Day (2016-2019), video still, courtesy of the artist


—I Felt It That Day

2016-2019, video, 39’52”

This work took place and was initially completed in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film's protagonist, Roy Chan, a social movement organizer, was born in an overseas Chinese family that had immigrated from Taishan, Guangdong Province, to the Bay Area. Through having a vegetable garden, he feels connected to the blood and soul of the older generation who have passed away. When the Oakland City Council of the Bay Area planned to demolish Madison Square Park which, situated in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, had been the place of morning exercises and gathering for many generations of overseas Chinese, Roy Chan felt that the park had accumulated the energy of overseas Chinese and that its demolition would mean the dispersion of people and energy. Therefore, he decided to organize a campaign to preserve the park, and ended up persuading the government officials and developers to abandon the plan to demolish the square. Through my conversation with him, I very much felt the influences of the culture and values of the southern Chinese region in his consciousness.

–Artist Statement


xu tan

Born 1957 in Wuhan; lives in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Xu Tan graduated from the painting department of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1983, and received his MA degree in 1989 from the same department, where he continued to teach till 1997. In 1993, he became a member of the "Big Tail Elephant Group" an experimental artistic group formed in Guangzhou. To this day, Xu Tan still maintains a lifestyle of a "flâneur". He is sensitive to changes in social life and culture, and constantly explores the boundaries of contemporary art. His way of working is more like that of a thinker; someof his works could not be defined at the time they were created, but fully reveal their significance today. He received the Fellowship of Asia Culture Council in New York in 2002, and a grant from the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin programme in 2004. He has been living and working between the Pearl River Delta, New York and San Francisco since 2008. Xu Tan has had solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Taipei, Toronto, Hong Kong, New York, Berlin. His works have been featured at the 53rd Venice Biennale, the 50th Venice Biennale, the 2nd Berlin Biennial, the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial, the 4th Gwangju Biennial, among others.