Artist delves into
community in Beijing

Half way through his residency at I:Project Space in Beijing, artist Ted Whitaker reports back on his experiences.

Ted (second from the right) with fellow I:Project Space artists in residence

In Beijing, the Asia New Zealand Foundation have an incredible partnership with I:Project Space, a non-profit platform hosting an artist-in-residence programme, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and performances.

The workspace is in a Hutong neighbourhood in the heart of Beijing. The artist residency is in another nearby Hutong of Baitasi that is supposed to be one of the last remaining Hutongs with a traditional feeling, as many others face demolition and restructuring.

I:Project Space was founded by curators and art critics Antonie Angerer and Anna-Viktoria Eschbach, who operate with a strong shared ideology that I can compare to methods in New Zealand’s non-profit scene. As well as other reasons, this makes me feel at home here in Beijing.

From the get-go, Anna and Antonie have worked with me to navigate both my own research interests and importantly Beijing’s art community, which are gratefully entwined in this experience of a new place.

I:Project Space acts as a strong home for conversation, which has created room for me to meet others living and working in Beijing and form new collaborations to learn local perspectives as well as develop my own research.

With the feeling of Beijing constantly moving and in a mode of flux, having ties and learning from its recent past has played a helpful role in understanding the community I am part of.

One such project I:Project Space has connected me with is a collaboration with Micro Yuan’er, a non-profit children’s library and art space.

It is a social project that aims to provide alternative solutions for renovating historical neighbourhoods such as Dashilar, where the site is located, that are slowly running into decay and are at risk of gentrification.

Ted: "So far this residency with I:Project Space in Beijing has offered a lot in terms of conversation, research and connectivity to local and international perspectives."

Working with kids, this project involved ideas of time, speed and change when thinking about technology, while acting as a metaphor to the rate of change with developments in Beijing.

The project invited the kids to imagine and make items of the future that we then documented and buried in the back alley of the courtyard in a mysterious black-box-shaped time capsule.

So far, this residency with I:Project Space in Beijing has offered a lot in terms of conversation, research and connectivity to local and international perspectives.

Ted Whitaker is a Dunedin-based artist who works in the field of video, photography and installation. His research interests explore ideas of intimacy and care through media archaeology and archival techniques.

During the residency with IːProject Space in Beijing, Whitaker is exploring e-waste systems to further his understanding of the ecological, political and ethical landscape, both as a visitor to Beijing and as a consumer.

He hopes to build knowledge and understanding of Beijing and surrounding communities through ideas of communication and language, specifically within consumer electronic culture.