2021 Annual Report & Turning 9
It's been a long pandemic and so far, while there's no end in sight, there’s little pockets of time when gathering feels even more special. Through all this, we're still here, grateful & hopeful & carried by all the resilience and ingenuity of the amazing artists and team we've had the honor of supporting over this past year. All of us miss our hometowns, many of us miss our families, and some of us have no idea if or when we can ever go home. We miss dumpling parties and hot pot, and communal meals with friends and strangers most of all, and we’re glad to have had the chance to see some of you in Los Angeles for a long-postponed lunar new year celebration!
This past year of 2021 was also the year when we've hosted the most residents ever, and supported projects that exist only on screens – films, VR experiences, games, exhibitions, residencies & parties -- all virtually.
================= OUR RESIDENCIES =================
🌐 Digital Diasporas 🌐
Building person to person connections across borders is more important than ever. In October, we hosted a three month long remote residency in partnership with host organizations 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (Sydney, Australia), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai, China), and Gendai Gallery (Toronto, Canada) for artists who self-identify and find it useful to gather under a "Chinese and Chinese diaspora" cohort.
At Gendai Gallery, Tian Zhang worked on a collaborative project to explore and critique the concept of the diaspora within settler colonial environments.
At Chronus Art Center, Casey Tang developed a posthuman phenomenological framework across disciplines, including physics, anthropology, and biology, threaded together by complexity science and biosemiotics to connect the “Human” back to “Nature”.
At 4A, Amy Lam researched a body of work about property, domesticity, miniature dogs, “wasted” time, and dreaming, arising from minor histories of the Opium Wars.
✨ Mediated 调和 Residency and Fellowship:✨
Beginning in March, for the seventh edition of the Crystal Ruth Bell Residency, we supported filmmaker Jiayu Yang 杨佳雨 in the creation her first feature length documentary film The Entomologists.
In an intimately personal film about family and the interconnections between humans and insects in a rapidly changing society, Jiayu captures her family's decades-long ambitions to raise worms as a sustainable food source.
We're excited to explore what supporting more films and games and media arts look like, after the pilot year of our Mediated Residencies, and we're thrilled that Kira, Shahong & Cleo are continuing to work with Jiayu as producers on her first feature film after the end of her residency.
We created an additional three-month Mediated Fellowship to invite eight media arts finalists with film and VR projects for a three month remote residency with in-kind support, peer-to-peer mentorship, and dedicated workshops to help bring these fantastic projects to light.
All of their projects are phenomenal, and we look forward to seeing their work evolve for years to come!
🌿 Watershed Residencies: 🌿
With support from the Essex County Arts Council, we hosted three workshops in the Adirondack Mountains in the far northern reaches of upstate New York in August. Originally intended to take place in spring of 2020 at the artist farm residency Lijiang Studio in Lashihai, a village in Yunnan province, we relocated and reimagined this project to similar landscape in a different watershed in the rural towns where Shahong and Kira have lived full, and part-time over the past year. Bringing into focus the local Adirondack Watershed, we partnered with local nonprofits and farms in the area to learn from, listen to, and create alongside the landscape shaped by this watershed and our collective presences here.
Johann Diedrick led a walk through nature to listen to the present, past, and future of the Adirondacks, peeling back sonic layers to reveal the history of this landscape and speculate on its future.
Candace Thompson taught how to brew wild herbal ales from foraged plants while discussing humanity's complex relationships with water contamination, intoxication, and remediation.
Laura Kung taught the multi step process of natural dyeing textile with foraged plants like goldenrod, mugwort, and sumac.
================= COLLABORATIONS =================
🌎 MDOCS 🌎
Nonfiction storytellers from all over the world gathered virtually. We brought together a wonderful trio of talented artists and filmmakers Jiayu Yang 杨佳雨, Greta Yu Cong, and He Jixing to share their experiences returning home and co-creating stories with their families in their rural hometowns in Guizhou, Sichuan & Yunnan.
📢 Meme Tactics moves online 📢
We presented at the Center for Book Arts’ Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference and online at MUTEK in Montreal. Building off our Meme Tactics exhibition which we moved online, we talked about how artists we admire hide zines in plain sight, bringing their messages directly to the people while avoiding the gaze of the critics and other powers that be.
🔮 Res Artis Conference 🔮
Even though China and the rest of the world keeps drifting apart, we are staying in touch through talks & conferences. Our wonderful co-director Amanda represented us at Res Artis's Digital Conference Defining the Next Decade, hosted by SAC Gallery in Bangkok.
In September, alongside fellow international artist organizations, we responded to pressing questions concerning the art world globally: "How can we as a collective whole ensure that historically excluded artists or those living and working in contested territories don’t feel isolated? What inequalities are preventing people from participating in virtual exchange?". Watch here.
The next Res Artis conference was going to be hosted by IZOLYATSIA and the Ukrainian Institute in Kyiv this fall. We’re devastated by these past weeks’ horrific invasion and share their message to the world in solidarity. As always: art can wait. Right now, our greatest collective work is caring for each other.
💖 China Residencies Community 💖
We are SO proud of the 100 (!) artists we've worked with in the past. For many of them, their time in China marked their very first arts grant or residency, and we’re so glad they are getting the recognition they deserve for their amazing work! A special shout out to:
Soraya Lutangu Bonaventure for their performance “Taking Care of God”
Elyla, who received the Prince Claus Award for their performances & organizing work with Operacin Queer collectiveto to create trans-feminist and de-colonial reflections in the Central American region
Vidisha-Fadescha for taking part in Documenta XV with their collective Party Office
Catherine Sarah Young for their project Ice Chess, which premiered in Copenhagen at SixtyEight Art Institute
Annie Ling, who graduated from Yale Photography MFA and showed her thesis work in a final exhibition in NYC & Taiwan
Yichen Zhou for her work photography work Dailylife, which was exhibited at PhMuseum in Sri Lanka
We celebrate all these accomplishments and triumphs that bring us immense joy in trying times. Throughout all this, we still need to stress: creative people don’t just need support for projects. Like all workers, we need affordable healthcare, living wages, and equitable and non-exploitative working conditions at the minimum. Like everyone, we need stable and proper housing, the ability to and safety from the violences of poverty, racism, patriarchy, cissexism & homophobia, ableism, colonialism & imperialism, and environmental destruction & climate change.
At China Residencies, supporting creative people also means mutual aid, resource redistribution, or just helping each other out. It looks like paying people's medical bills, linking people with immigration lawyers, writing recommendation letters and bringing people on for jobs, gigs, and prestigious awards alike. It looks like sharing housing, cars, and so much more.
And it's happening in all directions between our team, board members, alumni, fiscally sponsored fellows and the wider network of our peers & communities. At an organizational level, it means that we pay everyone, including interns, at least a living wage, provide benefits for part-time workers, and use WAGE standards for all the artists we work with. While the art world is notoriously inaccessible, we hope that by doing our small part, we can urge the field to prioritize supporting and caring for one another.
There's no art without artists and cultural organizers and admin. There could be no network of artist residencies and creative spaces in China without the hardworking and generous hosts. And there's no us without you.
We're about to enter our last single digit year, and it has been an incredible journey so far. We are so incredibly thankful to our community for all the joy and care that has been shared around, the powerful art that has been created, the yummy dumplings we’ve shared under the light of the new years. Nine years later, we are still evolving in new directions, and hope you'll help us keep going into our second decade and beyond.
Last year, we raised $192,028 of which 73% went directly to artists & programs. We’re just $2,581 short of our fundraising goal to replenish our artist emergency funds, and any contribution you can make will help us ensure we can keep supporting everyone in our community who needs it in 2022.
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=========== AN ETERNALLY EXPANSIVE WAVE OF THANKS ===========
Endless thanks to our phenomenal board members, our supportive funders, each and every one of our generous donors, our families, our friends, our support networks, our peers and fellow advocates against gentrification, jails & exploitation of all kinds, and most of all, to all the artists who find the courage to keep making, writing, composing, dancing, building, translating and dreaming of better ways we can live together.
In gratitude & solidarity,
China Residencies Team: Kira, Amanda, Shahong, Cleo, Quinn, Xiaoyao