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Case study: “New Public Art Journeys”

Case study: "New Public Art Journey"
200 busy days. 20 young fellows. A journey of 25,000 kilometers.
A visual archive of 50 pieces of intangible cultural heritage.
30 documentaries.
20 art lectures in villages.
835 questionnaires.
A report on the educational potentials of rural cultural halls.
“New Public Art Journeys” Zhejiang Art Museum, 2015.

“New Public Art Journeys” was initiated in 2014 by Li Wen, the head of the Education Department of Zhejiang Art Museum. The second iteration of this project in 2015 was run entirely by a team of twenty students from local universities. They traveled throughout Zhejiang province and produced a visual archive of 50 pieces of intangible cultural heritage, 30 documentaries of the heritage masters, and 20 lectures by the masters in different villages, attended by over 800 teenagers.

The video above is a trailer produced by the students at the end of this project.

Mobilizing and integrating various resources was crucial to the success of this project. The twenty students were selected from a pool of 200 applicants. They shared a commitment to cultural preservation, and a curiosity about the countryside. Many of them were art school students, with visual skills. But it was important that some members of the team possessed other skills like project planning, data collection, and website building.

Alt text Workshop with Zuo Jing, curator of the Bishan Project

Before they embarked on their travels, the students invited cultural heritage experts from the provincial Department of Culture and cultural activists who had been working in villages like Bishan and Datang to conduct training workshops for them. They also obtained official letters from the provincial Department of Culture, so when they went to the countryside, they could demonstrate to the local officials that their project was supported by the provincial government.

Alt text The interior of cultural hall in Yankou Village, transformed from an ancestral shrine

Once in the villages, they quickly identified local infrastructure that they could use, including cultural halls converted from schools or ancestral shrines. By working together as a team, and by leveraging resources effectively, the 20 students could complete a major project in just a few months.

After watching the video above, you can visit to see more details of this project:

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Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China

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