Po Hagström




The Art Space Race
Published May 29, 2007

Trial and Error, San Francisco – When walking in downtown San Francisco we pass Frey Norris Gallery. The current exhibition is entitled ”American Debut” and shows paintings by Zhong Biao. The subtitle reads: ”First ever American solo exhibition for internationally recognized Chinese artist”. We look at the large scale, skilled paintings and discuss the ever increasing interest for contemporary Chinese art in the West (for example the exhibition ”Made in China” that opened in March at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark).


Then the conversation inevitably touches the subject that next year one million new artists will graduate i China. One million! The number has been mentioned in different contexts (by Chinese art students in Sweden for instance) and even if it includes crafts and design, the amount is still bewildering.
In ”The unparallelled invasion” by Jack London, China starts to conquer the world in 1970 ”with all the certainty and terrifying slow momentum of a glacier”. The mere size of the population made it possible to devour any country and any army. In the rather rasist short story, Europe and the US meet the threat from the east in a joint effort by bombing China with all the diseases that western laboratories have been able to manufacture. Jack London, who published the story in 1914, much cherished the new technology but he had a gross view of how it could be used.
We have a more positive view of China’s ”invasion” though, and have a proposal for a degree project for next years one million new Chinese artists – whicht would also coincide with the Olympic Games 2008:
Each student will make an art piece that measures 12.8 meters. The host country could then encircle the entire globe in what would be the longest Chinese monument so far, and thus underline the motto for the next Olympic Games:


Or why not reach for the moon in an Art Space Race? In 1967 it was decided that space belongs to mankind (”The Outer Space Treaty”) and should not be used for commercial or military purposes. But since then we have distanced ourselves from that position. Commercials encourages us to name stars after our loved ones and nations leer at the possible resources on the moon. America decleares in the ”US Space Com Vision for 2020” their goal to be “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment” and “integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict”. It is about 4000 years since the tower of Babel was ruined but since then we have developed more advanced technique. It is no more than 384 000 kilometers to the moon. If divided among the Chinese graduates of 2008, that makes less than 390 meters per student. The Chinese space program intend to land a mooncar on the moon in 2012, lets say that one million artists are examinated in the same rate untill then, that would make a total of six million new artists devoted to the Art Space Race – and only 64 meter of art per student to reach the moon!


Since outer space cannot be claimed as national territory, the Chinese atists would not be subject to Chinese law (or reached by Google censorship for that matter). Maybe in a near future the Olympic Games could be located on the moon (as above envisioned by NASA) – on truly neutral ground?

Thanks to artist Anders Widoff who first informed us of the one million new Chinse artists.

Last updated October 2017 © Po Hagström