Executive Director, Zhang Di (pictured on right)
Established in the 798 Art District in Beijing during 2004, White Space Beijing is a professional art agency that seeks to promote contemporary Chinese art to an international audience. With their long lines of groundbreaking curatorial projects, it is the gallery’s intention to establish a professional and stylish platform between artists and collectors, and play an important role in its cooperating artists’ respective careers. Executive Director Zhang Di talks to arts interview about the role of diversity in shaping the gallery and its exhibitions.
Interview by Iris SiYi Shen
Tell me a little about the mission and activities of White Space?
“Mission” includes a lot of things. White Space is aimed at representing as much Chinese contemporary art as possible, and introducing great contemporary art to more people. It intends to establish a professional and stylish platform between artists and collectors, and to play an important role in its co-operating artists’ respective careers. The vitality of White Space lies in its youthfulness and diversity. The cooperation between our vigorous and creative team in collaboration with our young artists has created a whole new picture of Chinese contemporary art.
What does diversity means to you and White Space?
The above mentioned “diversity” is still in the context of contemporary art, which means the plurality of human beings.
To elaborate the last question, what quality do you look for in selecting artists in terms of diversity?
It’s a very specific question, but I don’t think there can ever be any quantitative criteria. We are very open-minded when choosing cooperating artists, that is to say, we don’t set limitations in any artwork’s genre, media, value system, culture or form. We encourage our artists to experiment in various things and try to explore the possibilities within them. We also give them as much support and convenience as we can. We find that a broad vision, a clear mind and great execution are important attributes for artists.
How do you find balance in representing artists that are culturally stimulating as well as commercially viable?
We won’t put special emphasis on this question. In the art industry, business is not contradictory to art in professional hands. We believe that art is a progressive social force. Even though business is a very important sector in the art system it can never be the ultimate goal.
Therefore we are very discreet in dealing with business issues and try to control this relationship. It is very subtle. For a gallery with solid attitude, sales could happen during the process of exhibiting and promoting artists or artworks. This exchange can also promote communication and education. It is serious and constructive.
As a commercial gallery, do you find it difficult to be consistently showcasing a diverse range of artists and their works? What are the challenges?
Chinese galleries often share certain responsibilities with art museums. We regularly hold 6-10 exhibitions every year, including various art forms. Of course we’ll meet a lot of difficulties, but it’s also interesting and much more fun this way.
To be frank, we find the public to be less responsive to mediums of performance such as installation and video art than they are to painting. We need a rather long time to promote it, to make more people understand and care for them. It needs quite a lot expertise, patience, and perseverance.