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Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7041
  • E-ISSN: 2051-705X



This article discusses the characteristics and background of the phenomenon of self-organized collectives formed by the younger generation of Chinese artists after the year 2000. First, this article traces the origin of the term ‘self-organization’ in the context of contemporary Chinese art. Second, four categories – art communities, art groups, independent projects and autonomous institutions – are employed to analyse these self-organizational practices. The article then offers specific examples of these self-organizational practices under various different conditions, demonstrating that the strategic responses and aims of self-organizations vary with their contexts. Lastly, the article demonstrates that these self-organizations differ fundamentally from the collective practices of the previous generation of artists, and that the cause of this change was the establishment and consolidation of an institutionalized contemporary Chinese art scene. From this angle, the self-organizational practices of young artists today constitute a rethinking of, and critique against, this new institutionalized system.


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