China Residencies: How and when did the residency start?
George Liu Zhen: I am a full-time artist, with some experience doing art residencies around the world. When I moved back to Shanghai, I started looking for a studio space for myself, then, one of my friends introduced me to the space we are using now, a perfect place for a residency. Therefore I founded Untitled Space in Shanghai in March 2017 and set up the residency program in Suzhou at the same time.
CR: What is your role in the residency?
GLZ: I am the director of the Untitled Space residency program. I am in charge of selecting artists, arranging events during the residency period, as well as directing and curating the exhibition for resident artists.
CR: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you go from artist to art space organizer?
GLZ: I make paintings exploring the conflict I see between individuality and modern culture. I lived in Singapore from 2010-2017, and I’m still active in the Singaporean art scene. During my practice as a young artist, I realized that working alone in the studio made me feel too isolated from the real world. I enjoy talking to different artists and learning from them. I also found the lack of independent residency program in Shanghai/Suzhou area very frustrating, so I decided to become a residency organizer.
CR: How did you decide on the location of the residency?
GLZ: When it comes to location, for an independent art space like us, there are not many options. But fortunately, Luxu is a very authentic Chinese watertown, unlike the highly commercialized, tourist attractions of Zhouzhuang and Zhujiajiao. Luxu is also located at the border between Shanghai and Suzhou, so artists can easily travel to both cities, and both cities have a lot to offer in terms of art and culture.
The Untitled Space AIR program gallery
CR: How many people are on staff? What is each person responsible for?
GLZ: Currently, there are three staff members: I am the director, Neu Neu is our graphic designer and project manager, Qiming Li is our artist assistant and illustrator. The three of us all work as coordinators from time to time.
CR: What kinds of artists does your residency host?
GLZ: We host Visual Art, New Media, Animation, Printmaking, Film Making, Sculpture, Ceramics and Performing Arts. Artists normally come from overseas, but we are working very hard to attract more local artists.
CR: What is the duration of the residency?
GLZ: Due to visa restrictions, the duration of the residency program is between 1 and 3 months.
CR: How many artists in residence have you hosted so far?
GLZ: We have hosted one artist so far, as our residency program just started this month.
CR: What kind of artwork have the resident artists created?
GLZ: The current resident artist is Nur Ayse San, who is creating printmaking works inspired by nature and landscape. Her work draws from her hiking journey in Korea and Suzhou. Ayse is a very experienced printmaker so we will also do a printmaking workshop for the public.
CR: Can you tell us a bit more about the opportunities you provide for residents to meet people in the local creative scene?
GLZ: Besides the printmaking workshop, we will also have artist friends from Shanghai/Suzhou, Singapore and Japan come visit us and the resident artist to talk about art and the creative process.
Interview was conducted via email by Josue Chavez in July 2017 for China Residencies.