Thursday 25 June 2015

Ambitious first showcase of Scotland’s contemporary artists in China.

A collaborative project between Cooper Gallery DJCAD, University of Dundee in Scotland Shanghai Himalayas Museum in China, CURRENT is made up of 8 exhibitions featuring over 50 artists over an 18 month period making it the first major showcase of Scotland’s internationally renowned contemporary art scene in China.

CURRENT is a curatorial collaboration between Sophia Hao, Curator of Cooper Gallery Dundee and Wang Nanming, an independent curator and critic in Shanghai.

Demonstrating the excellence and distinctiveness of contemporary art made in Scotland for the first time in China, its grass-roots spirit and its keen engagement with social and political debates, CURRENT will showcase new and existing works by artists from or based in Scotland including Bruce McLean, Poster Club, Edgar Schmitz, Ross Sinclair, Lucy Skaer and Corin Sworn.

CURRENT will also include important works from the REWIND Archive housed at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and a Moving Image Screening Programme featuring emerging artists in Scotland.

Strategically devised as four phases occurring over an 18-month period, CURRENT opens on 27 June to coincide with the British Council’s UK Season in China and ends in December 2016 to overlap with the 11th Shanghai Biennale. 

Over its 18 months, 50 artists will be showcased in 8 exhibitions, 4 artists’ and writers’ residencies will run alongside and international speakers forums with 12 speakers from Scotland and around the world will discuss the contemporary and transnational global aspects of the arts today. There will also be a public engagement programme allowing artists and curators to interact with Chinese artists, curators and the public.

The first phase of CURRENT sees two exhibitions open on 27 June, Poster Club which is an artists’ collaborative group featuring work by Ciara Philips (last year’s Turner prize runner-up), Michael Stumpf, Nicolas Party, Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond and Tom O’Sullivan (of Tatham and O’Sullivan). The group will make a new installation as well as participatory events.  Surplus Cameo Decor: Sindanao 2 by Edgar Schmitz transforms Shanghai Himalayas Museum into a cinematic set for plots and invited cameos by leading figures in the Chinese/Scottish cultural scenes to create a critique on cultural production. 

Running alongside will be artists’ residencies with Poster Club building on work in their exhibition and a 4 week residency with Anne-Marie Copestake when she will collaborate with artists and musicians in Shanghai. Art writer and member of Cooper Gallery’s Group Critical Writing initiative, Frances Davis will be the Art Writer in Residence, reflecting and annotating upon CURRENT in Shanghai. 

Drawing on and foregrounding Scotland’s rich social history of cultural activity, the artists brought together in CURRENT illustrate the oppositions, contradictions and paradoxes that give contemporary art and culture in Scotland such experimental energy. One of its strengths, reflexivity, was demonstrated in 2014 when the scope and scale of contemporary art in Scotland was reflected upon and celebrated through GENERATION, with exhibitions and events across the country which Cooper Gallery and artists in CURRENT also participated in. 

From early in the 20th century Shanghai has been one of the most exciting cities for international cultural exchange. Since 1994, Shanghai’s Biennale has led the rapid development of contemporary art in China and Asia and fed an expanding art scene which now supports over 200 government run and privately funded art museums and galleries and 8 major art schools. 

Sophia Hao, Curator of Cooper Gallery DJCAD in Dundee and of co-curator of CURRENT said, “Borne out of 3 years of close conversations and collaborative work between Cooper Gallery and Shanghai Himalayas, we’ve put together a radical curatorial programme which will champion the great strengths of Scotland’s visual artists and art to audiences in China by situating its distinctiveness and complexity within a global discourse on the ‘contemporary’. Through showing contemporary artworks from Scotland in China, the programme brings two radically different experiences of ‘the contemporary’ into proximity. CURRENT provides an important opportunity to boost knowledge and awareness of Scottish culture in a key international arena while enabling future exchange and collaboration opportunities between China and Scotland.”  

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland said "This is a major showcase opportunity for some of the very best contemporary art from Scotland to find new audiences in China.  We are extremely proud of Scotland’s reputation as an international centre for the visual arts and expect this project will do much to strengthen this.  Through a dynamic programme of events and exhibitions we look forward to making new connections and establishing future opportunities for creative exchange."


Lloyd Anderson, Director of British Council Scotland said, “CURRENT is set to bring to China one of Scotland’s strongest cultural assets: contemporary art. The coincidence of timing with our UK Season in China and the Shanghai Biennale makes this an incredible opportunity to present a comprehensive showcase of work by Scotland’s wealth of terrific contemporary artists and extend the reach and impact of their work and Scotland’s cultural profile. With exciting cultural and economic prospects in China and the success of the GENERATION programme in Scotland which impressed the international curators the British Council invited over to see it, the timing is right to realise this thought-provoking and rich programme of contemporary art from Scotland in collaboration with a leading art museum in China.” 

Poster Club said “We met Sophia last summer when we participated in a Studio Jamming Symposium at Cooper Gallery in Dundee which was the first survey exhibition in the UK about the history, condition and potentiality of artists' collaboration in Scotland. At that event we read Poster Club's ideals: 1. Make Posters, 2. Collaborate. Sophia seemed to appreciate the brevity and humour of our 'manifesto'. Her proposal to exhibit in Shanghai sounded interesting since none of us have ever been to China before, and the opportunity to exhibit in Shanghai and to experience being here as a group seemed fantastic. It's interesting for us to work in a different context and to encounter a new audience. 

“We're looking forward to the residency part of this project as it's quite rare that we have so much concentrated time to work together. It will also give us an opportunity to see another part of China and although it's not far from Shanghai, it's situated in a historic water town which will no doubt be a very different experience.”


Edgar Schmitz said “Sophia Hao had invited me to produce the first version of my exhibition Surplus Cameo Decor for Cooper Gallery in Dundee back in 2012. When she then offered me the chance to produce a new expanded version for CURRENT at Shanghai Himalayas Museum, I thought that it was just the perfect extension of the show: I had met Wang Nanming from Shanghai Himalayas Museum in Dundee when he made a cameo appearance in my exhibition, and he had suggested then that one day we would turn the tables and he would host me - he called it the revenge of the cameo, with a broad grin. Now that I am here the situation is wonderful: an amazing team of coordinators, technicians and interpreters to support the production, and a really generous atmosphere to work in.”

Media contacts:

British Council Scotland: Susie Gray, 07834 073 795,

Cooper Gallery in Dundee: Cicely Farrer, 01382 385 330 

Creative Scotland: Wendy Grannon, 0131 523 0016 

Shanghai Himalayas Museum: Xian Chen,



Notes to Editor

Cooper Gallery, Dundee

Cooper Gallery, Dundee is a public gallery associated with one of the most respected art colleges in the UK, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee. Under the curatorship of Sophia Hao, Cooper Gallery is rapidly gaining international recognition as a distinctive platform in Scotland for groundbreaking curatorial research and critical discourses in contemporary art and culture. Since 2010, Cooper Gallery’s unique new model of curating, grounded in discursive, participatory and process-led strategies has led to highly celebrated project including major exhibitions and commissions by Paul Noble, Bruce McLean, Viola Yeşiltaç, Anna Oppermann, Georgina Starr, Rose English, Kathrin Sonntag, Lynda Morris, Graham Eatough & Graham Fagen and Henry VIII’s Wives. Most recently the Gallery presented the large scale survey exhibition Studio Jamming: Artists’ Collaborations in Scotland.


Shanghai Himalayas Museum

Formerly the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai Himalayas opened in 2005 and has become one of the most prestigious and largest private art museums in China. In 2013 it opened four new galleries with 1,950 m2 of exhibition space and receives 500,000 visitors annually. 


Wang Nanming, Head of Research and Curator of Himalayas Museum is a well-respected international curator and critic in China and has organised international contemporary art exchange projects in China, Europe and America. 


British Council

The programme will be launched during the British Council season ‘UK in China’ and is being supported by the British Council. British Council has a successful relationship with Shanghai Himalayas Museum having worked as a partner on the critically acclaimed retrospective of British sculptor Tony Cragg in 2012, Sean Scully and Michael Craig-Martin in 2015. 


The artists

The artists involved in CURRENT reflect the ambition, excellence and experimentation of contemporary art in Scotland and are recognized internationally. This is evident in the prestigious awards they have received: Bruce McLean is a pre-eminent figure in the art world; Ciara Phillips & Lucy Skaer are Turner Prize nominees, Corin Sworn was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2013) and represented Scotland at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. 

CURRENT represents a strong legacy for GENERATION.  Not only did many of the artists exhibit in GENERATION (eg Ross Sinclair, Lucy Skaer, Corin Sworn, Ciara Philips, Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O’Sullivan, Nicolas Party), CURRENT will also include the ‘next’ generation of artists from Scotland and will therefore tell the story of contemporary culture in Scotland.

More information on each of these artists is below.

Project vision 

To enhance Scotland’s status as a distinctive creative nation and engender positive international perceptions of Scotland’s culture, CURRENT will bring to the fore in Asia the excellence of contemporary art in Scotland; its grass-roots spirit and its keen engagement with social and political debates.  

Spanning an 18 month period, the programme will widen and deepen the Chinese audience’s engagement with and understanding of contemporary art and culture from Scotland. This will build trust and mutual understanding between the two countries as per the Scottish Government’s Five Year Strategy for Engagement between Scotland and the People’s Republic of China.

CURRENT will feature works by established and emerging artists from different generations to illuminate the thought-provoking experimental practices in contemporary art since the 1980s, when China began forging links with the international art scene after the Cultural Revolution. 

CURRENT will provide a unique career development opportunity for the participating artists in an international context. This will generate future opportunities for the artists and Cooper Gallery in Scotland and internationally. 

This ambitious international collaboration will build new networks and present a pragmatic model for future collaborations and cultural exchanges between the art scenes of Scotland and China. 


Poster Club is a group of artists who collaborate on designing and printing posters.  Using the poster format as an open-ended starting point for their projects, Poster Club's primary interest is in using the medium of print as a site for experimental collaborative practice. Poster Club are Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O'Sullivan, Nicolas Party, Ciara Phillips and Michael Stumpf.

Poster Club's ideals are succinct yet open.

1. Make posters

2. Collaborate

They approach the idea of what a 'poster' is, and can be, by creating works that announce their own presence without informing us as to what they might mean. Instead of 'objective' information, their posters offer elusive statements, open-ended questions and humorous conjunctions. 

Poster Club have exhibited at: Martha Street Studio, Winnipeg (2014), Dundee Contemporary Arts (2013), Platform, Glasgow (2013), The Duchy, Glasgow (2013), Glasgow Print Studio (2011) and Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2011).

Poster Club will be Artists in Residence at Shanghai Himalayas Museum's Residency Venue in Zhujiajiao Town from 28 June - 5 July 2015 when they will have the opportunity to build on work in their exhibition. 

Bruce McLean: he used his own body to parody the poses of Henry Moore's celebrated reclining figures. When in 1972 he was offered an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, he opted, with obviously mocking intent, for a ‘retrospective' lasting only one day. Some of his sculptures were made in the outdoors of ice or mud. ‘I liked the idea of a puddle as a sculpture, because it is not eternal, it exists only when it rains.’

Anne-Marie Copestake: works mostly with film, sound and performance, she was awarded the Margaret Tait Award, Glasgow Film Festival, 2011 for And Under That. Copestake often works collaboratively and has been a founding member of two long-term collective projects in Glasgow: Poster Club and Muscles of Joy. Copestake will be Artist in Residence from 5 – 31 July at the Shanghai Himalayas Museum’s Residency Venue Zhujiajiao Art Museum located at Zhujiajiao town where she will have the opportunity to develop her work with Shanghai based artists and musicians. 

Frances Davis (Art Writer in Residence): Frances Davis is an emerging art writer and artist based in Glasgow. Since Summer 2014, she has participated in the Cooper Gallery’s Group Critical Writing, performing texts on collaboration, multiplicity, and the Kairotic moment. 

Group Critical Writing is an initiative in the Cooper Gallery programme advocating for art and critical writing in Scotland and beyond that emerged from Cooper Gallery’s major survey exhibition Studio Jamming: Artists’ Collaboration in Scotland which was presented as part of GENERATION in 2014.

Edgar Schmitz: German. He is the co-director of A Conversation in Many Parts, an international discursive platform for contemporary art and concepts, and a lecturer in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths. His first solo exhibition in Scotland received 4* review from The Times (Surplus Cameo Decor curated by Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design). CURRENT sees Schmitz reconfigure and add to his Cooper Gallery exhibition for the context of Shanghai Himalayas Museum. 

Ross Sinclair: Writes songs, plays drums and guitar, in 1994 had words ‘real life’ tattooed across his shoulders. Since then, his ‘Real Life’ projects have taken many forms. Real Life Rocky Mountain (1996) - first made at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), Glasgow: this fake hillside, populated with stuffed animals and artificial trees, rocks and grass, is an invented, idealised view of what Scotland might be.

Lucy Skaer: Represented Scotland at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, Turner Prize 2009 nominee (for Black Alphabet - 26 slender sculptures made of coal dust in the shape of Constantin Brâncuși's Bird in Space - and Leviathan Edge, an installation which included the skull of a sperm whale, drawings, and sculptures). She is also part of the artists’ collective Henry VIII’s Wives, a group of artists who met when they studied in the Environmental Art Department at the Glasgow School of Art.

Corin Sworn: Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2013-2014. Sworn’s 2013 project for the Scotland + Venice exhibition at the Venice Biennale included a film called The Foxes. The starting point for the film was the discovery of a box of her father’s old slides, including many he had taken during his research as an anthropologist in the 1970s, on visits to Peru and Spain.

REWIND: Artists’ Video from the 70s & 80s is a major AHRC research project (2004 -¬- ongoing) based at DJCAD in Dundee that provides a resource to address the gap in historical knowledge of the evolution of electronic media arts in the UK, by investigating specifically the first two decades of artists’ works in video. The project has re-mastered and archived an extensive amount of significant UK single-screen video and installation work from the 1970s and 1980s including works by David Critchley, Judith Goddard, Steven Partridge, Tony Sinden and David Hall’s 1971 TV Interruptions which was originally broadcast on television as part of the Edinburgh Festival in 1971 produced by Scottish Television.

Sophia Hao: is Curator of Exhibitions (Cooper Gallery) and Visual Research Centre at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, where she leads an experimental and integrated curatorial programme with a focus on critical discourse in contemporary art and visual culture. 

Hao is the founder and Editor of the art journal &labels. Hao was awarded the Henry Moore Institute Research Fellowship 2014/15.

Wang Nanming: is an independent curator, critic and artist based in Shanghai, China. Wang is best known for his research and writing on contemporary art in China. Because of his bold, incisive style and pragmatic approach, he is considered one of the most distinctive voices in Chinese contemporary art. His recent work examines how Chinese contemporary art responds to the world and how it contributes its specific perception of Contemporary art within a global context.



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