Public engagement project

Here Was Elsewhere: A Memorandum of a Summer in Shanghai

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland | Phase Four

On this page


Start date

April 2016

Completion date

April 2016

Following the successful realisation of Phase One of Cooper Gallery’s major international project CURRENT | 不合时宜: Contemporary Art from Scotland in Shanghai in summer 2015, Cooper Gallery and the British Council are delighted to announce the forum Here Was Elsewhere: A Memorandum of a Summer in Shanghai.

The forum will feature artists Poster Club, Anne-Marie Copestake, Edgar Schmitz, Ross Sinclair and Corin Sworn who are involved in the CURRENT | 不合时宜 programme and specially invited speakers from both China and UK including JJ Charlesworth (art critic and publisher of Art Review), Wang Nanming (independent curator and critic) and Weng Yunpeng (Director, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai). Chairing the forum will be Professor Chris Breward (Principal, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh).

Curated by Cooper Gallery in collaboration with curators and art organisations in China and organised in partnership with the British Council, CURRENT | 不合时宜 is a two-year four-phase contemporary art exhibition and forum programme. Building on the international interest in GENERATION, one of the most ambitious programmes of contemporary art to have taken place in Scotland, CURRENT | 不合时宜 showcases for the first time in China the distinctiveness of contemporary art made in Scotland, its grass-roots spirit and its keen debates with the social and political dimensions of art and culture.


British Council logo

Drawing upon Roland Barthes' apt aphorism "the contemporary is the untimely", the project opens a sustained critique on the 'contemporary'. Through questioning political, social and economic discourses, CURRENT| 不合时宜 unveils how the present moment is mediated into culture.

Here Was Elsewhere: A Memorandum of a Summer in Shanghai will share the experience gained and further expand the thoughts and discussions developed along the journey from Scotland to China. The forum will problematise the fictionality of the 'contemporary' that revokes the multiplicity of history in favour of a single all encompassing image; now, which is the critical focus of CURRENT | 不合时宜, to instigate what it means to create a transnational exhibition/cultural exchange programme in a world of shifting geo-political and social realities and how art can distinctively re-negotiate the similar yet different relationships that two locations have with a ‘globalised’ world.

Image from Phase One of CURRENT at Shanghai Himalayas Museum in summer 2015

Image from Phase One of CURRENT at Shanghai Himalayas Museum in summer 2015. Photo courtesy of Michael Stumpf.


Forum speakers

Chris Breward is Professor for Cultural History at the University of Edinburgh, where he also holds the positions of Principal of Edinburgh College of Art and Vice Principle of the University (Creative Arts). He was trained at the Courtauld Institute of Art (BA) and the Royal College of Art (MA, PhD), London, and has subsequently taught at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal College of Art and London College of Fashion. Before taking up his post at Edinburgh he was Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Musuem, London.

Breward has published widely on the history of fashion and its relationship to masculinities and urban cultures. Key publications include The Cultures of Fashion (MUP 1005), The Hidden Consumer (MUP 1999), Fashion (OUP 2003), Fashioning London (Berg 2004) and The Suit: Form, Function & Style (Reaktion 2016). Breward co-curated the V&A's major Olympic season exhibition British Design 1948-2012 and has been closely involved in the development of a joint research project with Donghua University, Shanghai on the development of Shanghai as an international fashion city. Since moving to Edinburgh, Breward has taken up roles on the boards of the National Museums of Scotland, the Fruitmarket Gallery and Hospitalfield House. He also sits on the Advisory Council of the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and is a Governor of the Pasold Institute.

JJ Charlesworth is a freelance art critic and since 2006 has worked on the editorial staff of the London-based international art magazine ArtReview, where he is currently the magazine’s publisher. JJ studied fine art at Goldsmiths College, London, in the mid-1990s, before turning his hand to criticism. Since 1999, he has published reviews, articles and commentaries in publications such as Art Monthly, Flash Art, Modern Painters, Contemporary, Time Out London, Third Text and the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He has also published many features and catalogue essays on artists such as Roger Hiorns, David Claerbout, Sarah Lucas and Liam Gillick. As well as writing, he has lectured and taught extensively, tutoring at London’s Royal College of Art, the Royal Academy Schools and Central St Martins College. He is a member of the executive committee of AICA UK, the UK section of the International Association of Art Critics.

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, and is considered one of the most distinctive voices in Chinese contemporary art; his paper “Shanghai Art Museum Should Not Become a Market Stall in China for Western Hegemonism” delivered at the 3rd Shanghai Biennale in 2000 gained praise from all quarters (In Wu Hong. ed.) Chinese Art at the Crossroads: Between Past and Future, Between East and West, 2001. Wang is an active advocate of “Avant-garde,” “Post Avant-garde,” and “Metavant-garde” art within a Chinese context. 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.

Collaborating with Cooper Gallery DJCAD curator Sophia Hao, Wang Nanming co-curated Phase One of CURRENT | 不合时宜 Contemporary Art from Scotland in 2015.

Wang has authored several books including Art Must Die: from Chinese Painting to Modern Ink Painting (2006), After Concept: Art and Criticism (2006), The Rise of Critical Art: Chinese Problem Situations, Theories of Liberal Society (2011), Art, System and Legislation: China's International Exchange (2012), A Post-colonial Honour: the Chinese-ness of Art and the Chinese identity of Artists (2012) and Obstacles of Calligraphy: Neoclassical Calligraphy, Popular Calligraphic Style and Modern Calligraphy Issues (2014).

Weng Yunpeng is Director of Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (opened in 2008), one of the largest non-profit public art museums in China today. The museum is funded by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation alongside its two sister venues; Shanghai 21st Century Art Museum (opened in 2014) and Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (opened in 2015).

A graduate of East China Normal University in 1989 where he majored in oil painting, Weng obtained his MA in Painting from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing in 1997, he undertook a PhD research course in Painting at Tsinghua University in 2000. Alongside his organizational commitments and curatorial work, Weng has always pursued his own artistic practice and is known for his painting, photography and moving image works. As an artist, Weng has been shown in major art museums in China and internationally.

Weng joined Minsheng Art Museums in 2012 as a member of the Development Committee of the organisation’s new venue Beijing Minsheng Art Museum. In 2014, Weng was appointed Director of Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai. Major projects curated at Minsheng Art Museum include Childhood Friends Getting Fat: Moving Image by Liu Xiao Dong 1984-2014 (2014), Contemporary Photography in China 2009-2014 (2014), The System of Objects (2015) and Linguistic Pavilion (2016). In 2015, in collaboration with the Photographers’ Gallery in London and the British Council, Weng led the team at the museum on organising and presenting Work, Rest and Play: British Photography from the 1960s to Today, which is part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

CURRENT Artists participating in 'Here Was Elsewhere'

Anne-Marie Copestake is an artist who works with moving images, sound, performance, text, print, and sculpture. Copestake was the recipient of the Margaret Tait Award in 2011 and the inaugural BFI Experimental Development Award in 2015. 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’s exhibitions and screenings include: Ripples On The Pond, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; E E E O E E E I A A E E A, Rhubaba, Edinburgh; Inverleith House, Edinburgh (all 2015); Trigger Tonic Compendium, Tramway, Studio Jamming (with Full Eye), Cooper Gallery, Dundee, Tectonics BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Festival (with Muscles of Joy), The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow (all 2014); Queens Film Theatre, Belfast; Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds; Media City Film Festival, Windsor, Canada; Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany (all 2013); Studio 58, Women Artists in Glasgow since World War II, Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow; And Under That, Cafe Oto, London, Glasgow Film Theatre and CCA Glasgow (all 2012).

Copestake is part of the CURRENT programme through her membership of Poster Club and as an individual artist. As part of CURRENT, Copestake undertook a month residency in summer 2015 in the water town of Zhu Jiajiao on the outskirts of Shanghai where she developed new works and collaborated with artists and musicians.

Poster Club

Poster Club is a group of artists who collaborate on designing and printing posters. 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. 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's ideals are succinct yet open.

  1. Make posters
  2. Collaborate

Poster Club are Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O'Sullivan, Nicolas Party, Ciara Phillips and Michael Stumpf. Poster Club have exhibited at: Cooper Gallery DJCAD, Dundee (2016), Himalayas Museum, Shanghai (2015); 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).

In summer 2015, Poster Club participated in Phase One of CURRENT and travelled to Shanghai for the exhibition and a week-long residency in the water town of Zhu Jiajiao.

Edgar Schmitz is an artist who produces escapist backdrops from film, sculpture, animation and writing. His sub-filmic clusters act as portals and escape hatches for the exhibition as event, and project gallery settings toward film by colliding their material, atmospheric and narrative promises. Selected solo exhibitions include Liam Gillick: “Edgar Schmitz”, ICA, London (with Liam Gillick), extra added bonus material, FormContent, London, Surplus Cameo Decor, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, sindanao2, Himalayas Museum, Shanghai. Schmitz has also written extensively on contemporary art, with contributions to Kunstforum international, Texte zur Kunst, artforum, contemporary, tema celeste and numerous catalogue essays, including texts on Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Phil Collins, on Brian Jungen’s animalities, on humour in Deleuze and Slominski, and on Sarah Morris’ LA.

In summer 2015, Schmitz participated in Phase One of CURRENT in Shanghai and co-curates the forum series Hubs & Fictions: On Current Art and Imported Nearness in Shanghai with Cooper Gallery Curator Sophia Hao as part of CURRENT.

Ross Sinclair is an artist, writer and musician, and currently Reader in Contemporary Art Practice in the School of Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art.

He is best known for his ‘Real Life project' initiated when he had the words REAL LIFE tattooed in black ink across his back, at Terry’s Tattoo parlour in Glasgow, 1994. The ‘Real Life Project’ has been exhibited in public and private spaces, museums and galleries in the UK, Europe, USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia, and has been disseminated across a range of publication contexts.

Recent public exhibitions include the display of his large-scale neon installation, ‘We Love Real Life Scotland’ for the ‘Devils in the Making, GSA and the Collection’ exhibition, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2015/16); a recreation of his 1996 performance installation ‘Real Life Rocky Mountain’ at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh for ‘Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland’ (2014/15), an exhibition at Simone de Souza Gallery, Detroit (2015) and a new commission by UK Parliament, to contribute to a year-long project in Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster (2015).

Sinclair has published essays and texts in books, journals and magazines and has written extensively on the generation of Scottish artists emerging from the 1990s onwards, recently contributing an essay on (2010 Turner Prize winner), Susan Philipsz: Socialism in Her Heart, to the ArtAngel/Koenig monograph ‘You Are Not Alone’, 2014. In spring 2016, Sinclair will be a visiting fellow at St Johns College, Oxford University, where he will undertake a 3 month artist in residence programme.

Since the 1980s Sinclair has utilised music throughout his practice. In 2015 he released a gatefold vinyl album with booklet documenting a 3 year project with Collective Gallery (Edinburgh) 20 Years of Real Life: Free Instruments for Teenagers where he worked with young people developing, recording and releasing music made on instruments given away for free during his exhibition of the same name that was live at The City Dome, on Calton Hill in Summer 2014.

Ross Sinclair undertook a Creative Scotland funded research visit with Cooper Gallery to Shanghai in 2014 and will participate in a forthcoming phase of CURRENT in Shanghai.

Corin Sworn is an artist living and working in Glasgow. Often combining images with spoken narrative and using found material, her work examines cultural and personal significance attributed to objects and how they in turn narrate us as social subjects. Sworn creates installations that explore ways objects circulate through stories and histories being subject to constant change.

Sworn studied in Psychology and Art History at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in 1999 followed by a BFA at The Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver in 2002 and an MFA at The Glasgow School of Art in 2009. She is an Associate Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art.

Sworn has exhibited widely and recently presented solo exhibitions in institutions including Oakville Galleries, Canada (2016), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015), Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2014), The Common Guild, Glasgow (2014), Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2013), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2013), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012), Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2011), Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2011). Sworn was one of three artists representing Scotland at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and in 2014 participated in “You Imagine What You Desire”, 19th Biennale of Sydney. As a winner of Max Mara Prize for Women 2013 - 2015 and the recipient of the Leverhulme Trust award, Sworn presented her solo exhibition Silent Sticks at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia in 2015. She is represented by Natalia Hug Gallery in Cologne and Koppe Astner in Glasgow.

Corin Sworn undertook a Creative Scotland funded research visit with Cooper Gallery to Shanghai in 2014 and will participate in a forthcoming phase of CURRENT in Shanghai.

Poster Club: NEW Wheat NEW Mud NEW Machine

Exhibition continues until Saturday 23 April 2016

NEW Wheat, NEW Mud, NEW Machine is a newly created installation of posters, garments and sculptures by artists’ collaborative group Poster Club. Poster Club are Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O’Sullivan, Nicolas Party, Ciara Phillips and Michael Stumpf.

NEW Wheat, NEW Mud, NEW Machine sees the artists create a new body of work stemming from their participation in Cooper Gallery’s major international project CURRENT in Shanghai in 2015.

Poster Club uses the medium of print as a site for experimental collaborative practice. Revisiting previous artworks and utterances is one of the key apparatus in Poster Club’s practice which they describe as a humorous 'institutional self-critique’. Through their use of elusive and humorously provocative slogans and utilisation of the ‘poster’ in its inherent multiple form, Poster Club’s works embody the plurality and complexity of contemporary cultural practice.

CURRENT is organised in partnership with the British Council. CURRENT was initiated by Cooper Gallery DJCAD (Dundee) and independent curator and critic Wang Nanming (Shanghai) in 2014 and is curated in collaboration with curators and art organisations in China. It features works by both established and emerging artists from different generations to illuminate the thought-provoking experiments in contemporary art since the 1980s, when China began forging links with the international art scene. CURRENT tells the story of Scottish contemporary culture, with eight exhibitions by both established and emerging artists from or based in Scotland, including Poster Club (Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O’Sullivan, Nicolas Party, Ciara Phillips & Michael Stumpf) and Edgar Schmitz. The programme spans two years from summer 2015 to summer 2017. The first phase was launched in Shanghai by Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

CURRENT was part of the 2015 UK-CHINA Year of Culture Exchange (YoCE).

CURRENT receives and has received support from the British Council, China-UK Connections through Culture, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Scottish Government and Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Related groups

Cooper Gallery