From 10 October to 15 November the 10th Biennial exhibition “From Lausanne to Beijing”took place at three venues: The Beijing Art Museum, The Tsinghua University of Art Museum and the Academy of Art and Design at that same University. The event was organized by the Department of Arts, Crafts and Design/ Tsinghua University; the Fiber Art Institute, Facultaty of Public Art at the China National Academy of Painting and finally the Fiber Art Committee, China Arts and Crafts Association.
This Biennial event is the brain child of professor Lin Lecheng, who describes in his biography how devastated he was to hear that the Lausanne Biennial had stopped running in the mid-nineties. He only needed until the year 2000 to make his dream come true to organise a worldwide event dedicated to textile art in the continuation of the Lausanne Biennial. His meritis have been to have taken care of 10 such large events being organised and financed. As this was the last Biennial he was organising, we will have to see how the event will develop in the hands of younger organisers.
In the magazine Textile Forum we did report on the event allthough with a critical eye. In 2012 in Nantong, a former textile industry town, we saw the exhibition for the first time ourselves. As much as we were impressed by the 282 artworks from 35 countries arranged over 5 spacious halls, we found the total impression rather unbalanced and regretted that the techniques (and possible executors) were not mentioned. Also the number of applicants was not published. But it was clear that enormous costs and organising work had been put into this Biennial that made it worth for visitors from abroad to come and see the works of textile art, showing a strong interest in this art in China.
This year 1375 art works from 45 countries were submitted of which 175 works made by 183 artists from 40 countries were chosen for the exhibition. 88 Artists came from China, 63 from Europa and 31 from other continent (13 of them from the USA). About 22 per cent of the participants were male, 88 per cent female. In the catalogue foreword the diversity is highlighted together with traditions: “Fiber art not only presents rich sentiment inherited from history, but also reveals the diversity of possibilities in fiber art`s future” ( Lu Xiaobo Dean of Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University). More evaluation was not published. I see very well how difficult it is to look at developments in textile art.
What was on show? I counted at least 21 works in the traditional tapestry technique, a smaller number of freestanding three-dimensional sculptures but just only 2 computer weavings. Further weavings and embroideries were also present but, as far as visible from the photos, not in larger numbers. As a whole the works indeed looked like traditional work mixed with more experimental textile art works. The Chinese artists excelled in both traditional technigues as also in new experimental creations. Young Chinese artists are having a really good platform to show their work to the world. From the Western world I saw some of prize winning works from other international exhibitions and I did regocognize that there is an increasing part of textile artists applying at many international exhibitions. The Biennial would benefit from a restriction for applicants not to show works that has been on show in other international events.
It was obvious that finances were not as generously available as in the 2012 version, so that this problem every textile art organiser in Europe has, is now also noticeable in China.
We will have to see where the “From Lausanne to China Biennial” is going in the future. As also the other major event showing fiber art worldwide, the Lodz Triennial, is having a new and younger curator, we can hope for the continuation of major shows with new and interesting art works!