Having held its first exhibition in 2001, Taikang Space was the very first domestically funded non-profit art space in Beijing. Compared to most non-profits, which scrape by as the institutional equivalents of vagrants begging for alms, Taikang Space is a garlanded aristocrat wielding a sceptre and gilded crown, backed by the coffers of the one of the most profitable insurance companies in China. Its ambition reflects this elevated status.
‘The guideline is to delineate history,’ says Tang Xin, the artistic director of Taikang Space. ‘Our motto is to march forward by retracing our steps. We want to pay more attention to our own history [of contemporary art], rather than comparing it with the Western history, in which China always occupies a position of inferiority. Maybe I should put it this way: when Western artists and curators speak of contemporary art, they are able to claim a rich history of what has been done by previous generations. But when we talk about Chinese contemporary art, are we aware of our own history and the generations which preceded? No. We take the West as our model instead.'