RAM Talk: A Dialogue between Two Artists

Venue: MEM Art Space, No.185 Yuanmingyuan Road, 2F
Speaker: Li Ming, Zhang Peili

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About the Talk

Since 1988 when Zhang Peili created China’s first video artwork, video art has been increasingly known to the public. Over the past thirty years, Zhang has been relentlessly working as an artist to break away from the rigid, patternized video narratives he was used to and explore the basic narrative logics, techniques and practices of video art; and as a teacher to instruct and guide a new generation of new media artists, including Li Ming, the other speaker in this talk.


From the artworks and viewpoints of both Zhang and Li, a sense of solemnness can be identified. For example, against the backdrop of commercialization of art, Zhang insists that the most critical quality of young artists is “staying true to yourself,” meaning that artists shall go beyond mere passions and follow their own rational thoughts and judgments, instead of pursuing money, fame or popular trends. The two artists also share similarity in their productive thinking in the paradoxes between individuals and groups, and freedom and power, which is reflected in their artworks. Although there is a saying in academies of fine arts that “creation is not teachable,” we would like to know how Zhang educated Li, his student and friend, just like “a tree shaking another tree, and a cloud promoting another cloud.” In this talk, two speakers will also discuss how the overall environment, education and knowledge structure that once shaped and limited the generation of Zhang have changed in the “era of emerging artists” represented by Li, and how artists may work in solidarity and stay true to themselves.

About the Speakers

Zhang Peili graduated from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (the predecessor of the China Academy of Art) and currently works as Professor of the New Media Art Department at the China Academy of Art. The first video artist in China, Zhang has contributed great pioneering efforts to video art.


Li Ming, born in 1986 in Yuanjiang, Hunan Province, graduated from the New Media Art Department of China Academy of Art in 2008, and currently lives and works in Hangzhou.

His recent solo exhibitions include: “New Directions: Li Ming” showcasing his work named MEIWE at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, China (2015) and “Mediation” at the Antenna Space, Shanghai, China (2014). The group exhibitions in which he participated include “No walk, no work” at the Center of Contemporary Art of Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland (2016), “Why the Performance?” at the Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2016), “Turning Point: Contemporary Art in China Since 2000” at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, China (2016), and “Hybridizing Earth, Discussing Multitude” at Busan Biennale, South Korea (2016).

About the Host

Li Qi, Deputy Editor of The Art Newspaper China. He was a senior curator at the Rockbund Art Museum, and has worked in the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing and the British Film Institute (BFI) in London.

The exhibitions he has curated include the “HUGO BOSS ASIA ART: Award for Emerging Asian Artists” (2017), “Felix Gonzalez-Torres” (2016), “Heman Chong: Ifs, Ands, or Buts” (2016) and “CONDITIONS: An Exhibition of Queer Art” (2014).