Public Lecture

On the Politics of Time: Chinese Contemporary Art at the Venice Biennale

Date: 8 March 2023, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Jenifer Chao, Reader/Associate Professor Research, De Montfort University, UK

Location: University of the Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts, Block F, Level 2, #F202, 1 McNally St, Singapore


China’s Cultural Diplomacy and Nation Branding

The 15th Annual Conference of Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, in partnership with De Montfort University, UK 

Dates: 1 & 2 December 2022

We are excited to announce our conference ‘China’s Cultural Diplomacy and Nation Branding’ is now open for online/physical registration. Please see the full programme below. 

To receive a zoom link, please email conference assistant Yan Chao copying with your name, email and position (student, curator, academic, etc). Our zoom room can accommodate up to 100 people and places will be allocated on a first come, first serves basis.

For physical attendance, there is no charge and light refreshments will be provided. Attendance is limited to 30 people and similarly places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. The conference will be held at the School of Art (Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BX ), Birmingham City University which is located in the city centre a few minutes walk from Birmingham New Street Station.  Please also email name, email and position to Yan Chao.

All are welcome.           

1 December Thursday

09.30-10.00      Registration

10.00-10.20      Welcome (Professor Nicholas Gebhardt, Professor Jiang Jiehong; AHRC Project: Art Diplomacy and Nation Branding: The Visual Politics of Reinventing China (Dr Jenifer Chao)

10.20-10.50      Keynote: Professor Ruth Simbao, Fine Art Department, Rhodes University, South Africa

Old Stories, Contemporary Politics, Shared Futures: Chinese Soft Power and Visual Narratives of Friendship in Zambia

10.50-11.10      Q&A

Panel One:  Nation Branding

Chair: Dr Christopher Browning

11.10-11.30      Yan Chao, Birmingham City University, England

Insiders out and Outsiders in: the Vicissitudes of China’s National Image in Domestic and International Art Fairs

11.30-11.50      Dr Giovanna Puppin, University of Genova, Italy

(Re)Brand New China: Brands, Advertising, and China’s National Image

11.50 -12.10     Han Xie (online), University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Artistic Presentation and Nation Branding: A Comparative Study of 2008 and 2022 Beijing Olympics Games Opening Ceremony

12.10-12.40      Panel discussion

12.40-13.40      Lunch Break

Panel Two: Traditional Culture as Capital

Chair: Dr Federica Mirra

13.40-14.00     Professor Xiaoling Zhang (online), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China

Contemporary Artistic Expressions, Traditional Culture and Image Building

14.00-14.20      Dr Ljiljana Stevic, University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ​​Dr Slobodan Popović (online), University of Belgrade, Serbia

The Role of the Chinese Traditional Culture in the Chinese Public Diplomacy

14.20-14.40      Yitao Qian, University of London, UK

Rebranding New China Through Replicas: A Comparative Study of Two MubanshuiyinHua and Their Role in Cultural Diplomacy in China after 1949 

14.40-15.10      Panel discussion

15.10-15.30      Break

Panel Three: Art diplomacy

Chair: Dr Jenifer Chao

15.30-15.50     Professor Mi You, University of Kassel / documenta Institut, Germany & Dr Qiuzi Guo, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Italy

The Making of a Post-Cold-War China: ‘China Avantgarde’ and ‘Silent Energy’ in the 1990s

15.50-16.10     Dr Emily Verla Bovino (online), The City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

Nation Branding by Evasive Curation: The Case of Q Art Group ­­– A Hong Kong-made Image of China through Central and Eastern European Art

16.10-16.30     Yidan Pang, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France

Government-sponsored art residency programs and the cultural branding of second-tier cities in China

16.30-17.00      Panel discussion

18.00                Conference Dinner

2 December Friday

09.45-10.00      Registration

Panel Four: Films and vlogs

Chair: Dr Lauren Walden

10.00-10.20      Dr Stephen Andriano-Moore (online), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China

21st Century Hollywood SciFi: Telling China’s Stories Well

10.20-10.40      Yunyi Liao, Loughborough University

Everyday Nation Branding in Digital China: The Case of ‘Liziqi’ and Implicit Nation Promotion

10.40-11.00      Giulia D’Aquila, King’s College London, UK

(Soft) Power struggle: Hollywood vs the Chinese market and the challenges of film nation branding

11.00-11.30      Panel discussion

11.30-11.50      Break


11.50-13.00      Museums, (re)branding and public diplomacy

Xiaowen Zhu, Director of Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester; Davide Quadrio, Director of MAO Asian Art Museum, Turin; Professor Jiang Jiehong; Dr Jenifer Chao

13.00-14.00      Lunch Break

Panel Six: Operatic and theatrical exchanges

Chair: Dr Hongwei Bao

14.00-14.20      Dr Xiao Lu (online), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China

Reinventing Chinese traditional opera in the digital age: from cultural dilemma to cultural confidence

14.20-14.40      Professor Stefania Stafutti, University of Turin, Italy

Turandot: a Persian princess, a Chinese contemporary story

14.40-15.00      Dr Barbara Leonesi, University of Turin, Italy

Meng Jinghui’s Teahouse: an international success or an outrage to Chinese culture?

15.00-15.30      Panel discussion

15.30-15.50      Break

15.50-16.20      Keynote: Davide Quadrio, MAO Asian Art Museum, Turin

16.20-16.40      Q&A

16.40-17.00      Closing Remarks (Dr Jenifer Chao, Dr Chris Browning, and Professor Jiang Jiehong)

17.00-17.15      CCVA 2023 Annual Conference announcement Dr Lauren Walden and Professor Jiang Jiehong

18.30                  Conference Dinner

Call For Paper

China’s Cultural Diplomacy and Nation Branding Conference

Deadline for abstracts: 2 May 2022, 5 pm GMT

This two-day conference will bring together researchers and creative professionals to assess the political nexus between Chinese contemporary arts, diplomacy and nation branding. It focuses on the mobilization of creative expressions for the state’s wider agendas to boost recognition and legitimacy, as well as projecting the country’s global image and status abroad. This approach positions creative outputs at the intersection of aesthetics, statecraft, nation branding and state reputation management. 

Our starting point is China’s own self-representation: how the country wishes to appear and become legible on the global stage and how it portrays itself as an international power. As part of such image-making drives in recent decades, the realm of culture has been instrumentalized for national identity construction projects while serving, simultaneously, as one of the engines of the country’s growing cultural and creative industries. Often examined as a form of soft power, these cultural expressions disseminate so-called Chinese values, ideals and ideologies that jointly orchestrate the country’s international image and credibility. 

We welcome papers that address all fields of contemporary arts – including art, design, performance art, film and others. How have they been embroiled in this process of perception governance and image control? How have they acted as cultural capital to enhance diplomatic relations, recalibrate China’s nation brand, shape statecraft, or enable people-to-people exchanges? How have these roles been redefined in view of China’s relationship with the world during and after the pandemic? 

Possible perspectives for proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • The growth of contemporary art biennials and Chinese museums along the routes of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative
  • How the arts impact the diplomatic process of the country’s economic developments in Africa
  • China-themed exhibits and national pavilions (at the Venice Biennale and the Venice Architecture Biennale, for example)
  • The role of the arts in Chinese nation branding and soft power
  • The mobilization of Chinese contemporary arts, state art collections and performances at embassies, global summits, diplomatic gatherings and official visits 
  • Curatorial and museum practices, including loan programmes, to bolster bilateral relations and media image
  • Analyses of the government’s cultural policy overseeing arts exhibits in the international realm
  • (Non-)state-sponsored artists exchange programs, travel schemes and residencies
  • China’s international art and cultural exchanges during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Guidelines/Timeline for Proposals: 

Please submit one document, either Word or PDF, containing 1) an abstract of up to 300 words; 2) a 100-word biography, contact information and any institutional affiliation by 2 May 2022 to Dr Jenifer Chao, or with a subject titled ‘15th CCVA Annual Conference’. Any questions should also be directed to Dr Chao at the first email address. Conference presentations should not run more than 20 minutes. Successful proposals for conference contributions will be notified no later than 16 May 2022. Invited full papers should be submitted by 31 March 2023, for the special double edition 10.2&3 of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, to be published in the autumn 2023. 

In Conversation

Please join us for a conversation with three past curators of the China Pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale: Peng Feng (2011 edition), Wang Chunchen (2013 edition), and Wu Hongliang (2019 edition). 

Date: Saturday, December 4 , 2021

Time: 11:00  to 13:45 (UK Time); 19:00 to 21:45  (Beijing Time)

Venues: Via Zoom, please email Dr Lauren Walden to receive the link. Or via Bilibili:

The online discussion will be hosted by Professor Jiang Jiehong of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts and conducted in Chinese. A recorded version with English subtitle will be uploaded to the “RESOURCES” page on this website soon following the event.

Photo Caption:

Main: Ji Wenyu and Zhu Weibing, Compromise Failed, 2018. Cloth and wadding. Leo Gallery, Shanghai, 2019.

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