Monday 8 July 17:00 - 19:00

Brunei Gallery SOAS
Russell Square

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Book Launch: The Conformed Body: Contemporary Art in China

Performing & Visual Arts

In celebration of Professor Jiang Jiehong's new book

The book launch for Professor Jiang Jiehong's The Conformed Body: Contemporary Art in China, published by Brill, will include Professor Jiang Jiehong's presentation, remarks by Professor Chris Berry, Dr Wenny Teo, and Xiaowen Zhu, and a panel conversation moderated by Dr Panpan Yang.

Sample books will also be available.

The event is free and open to all. But booking is essential.

About the new book

Through the perspective of the ‘conformed body’, this groundbreaking book examines the role in art of everyday conformist practices in the People’s Republic of China, such as mass assemblies and bodily trainings and exercises, as well as their impact on people’s perceptions and collective memories. It identifies related artworks, reassesses artistic interpretations with critical reflections, and explores a key origin of artistic productions in post-Mao China. Featuring 200 colour illustrations, the book discusses works by more than 30 internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Geng Jianyi, Song Dong, Xu Bing, Zhang Peili and Zhang Xiaogang.

About the main speakers

Jiang Jiehong is Director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, and Principal Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect). Jiang has been Lead Curator for many international exhibitions including the Guangzhou Triennial: the Unseen (2012), the Asia Triennial Manchester: Harmonious Society (2014), The Shadow Never Lies (Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, 2016), the First Thailand Biennale: Edge of the Wonderland (Krabi, 2018-19) and This Is Shanghai (a partner exhibition of the 10th Liverpool Biennial, 2018). Jiang’s book publications include Burden or Legacy: from the Chinese Cultural Revolution to Contemporary Art (Hong Kong University Press, 2007), The Revolution Continues: New Art from China (Saatchi Gallery and Jonathan Cape, 2008), Red: China’s Cultural Revolution (Jonathan Cape, 2010), An Era without Memory: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation (Thames and Hudson, 2015), The Art of Contemporary China (Thames and Hudson, 2021) and The Otherness of the Everyday: 12 Conversations from the Chinese Art World during the Covid-19 Pandemic (Intellect, 2021). Jiang currently is working on a book project, The Art of Contemporary Japan, to be published by Thames and Hudson.

Chris Berry is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. In the 1980s, he worked for China Film Import and Export Corporation in Beijing, and his academic research is grounded in work on audio-visual media of the Sinosphere. Books include: Cinema and the National: China on Screen; Postsocialist Cinema in Post-Mao China: the Cultural Revolution after the Cultural Revolution; Chinese Film Festivals: Sites of Translation; Routledge Handbook of East Asian Popular Culture; Public Space, Media Space; The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record; and Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology, and Social Space.

Wenny Teo is a specialist in modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on China and Chinese diasporas in transnational and global contexts. She is currently a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Modern and Contemporary Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Her writing has been published in numerous academic journals, exhibition catalogues and art magazines.

Xiaowen Zhu is the Director of esea contemporary, a non-profit art centre specialising in presenting and platforming artists and art practices that identify with and are informed by East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) cultural backgrounds. Zhu has organised and conceived numerous contemporary art exhibitions, working closely with both established and emerging artists from all over the world. She is the author of artist book Oriental Silk (Hatje Cantz, 2020) and collection of short stories Encounters (Shanghai Educational Publishing House, 2022). Her essays, prose, interviews, and reviews of her book have appeared in Art Review, e-flux, Kaleidoscope, Asian Review of Books, Crown Magazine, Arts of the Working Class, It’s Nice That, and elsewhere.

Panpan Yang is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the arts and visual cultures of modern China at SOAS University of London. From 2023 to 2025, she is the Principal Investigator of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project on calligraphic imagination in contemporary art and emerging media. With Jiang Jiehong, she is co-editing a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art on the moving image. She is also the co-founder of Small Gallery, an experimental art space in North London.

Event Location

The event will take place at Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (BGLT) within the SOAS Brunei Gallery.


Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ

The SOAS Brunei Gallery is located between Malet Street and Thornhaugh Street, in the north-west corner of Russell Square. The Gallery is a five minute walk from the British Museum.


We gratefully acknowlege the support from Asymmetry Art Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, SOAS School of Arts, the SOAS-Alphawood Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, SOAS China Institute, and the East Asian Research Seminar (EARS).

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