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Ou Ning and the post 80s generation

Couscous Global
talks to designer, curator and writer Ou Ning about the generation of Chinese born in the 1980s, and about Beijing, with random post 80s soundbites at the beginning.

There are currently 6 Comments for Ou Ning and the post 80s generation.

Comments on Ou Ning and the post 80s generation

very interesting, thanks for the post
But I guess some assumptions about the post-1980s generation is very generalising. To say that post-1980s are not politically aware is quite paradoxical to his early claim about this generation being more internationalised. The generation is perhaps not as politically active, but that doesn't necessarily mean that most of them are not aware of what's happening in the country. With the convinience of internet and opportunities to go abroad, I think this generation are more exposed to negative reports about China. Hence you have the protestations against CNN etc. This is just one example to prove that many of this generation is very politically aware, and even active, just not quite in an expected way. I think that must got something to do with age as well, when this generation grows older, more sophisticated voices will come out - just like how Ou Ning's generation has now come into their sophistication.

Having said all that, I really appreciate Ou Ning's work on expanding public spaces and venues for this generation to speak out. After all, it is usually that the more you speak, the more critical and articulate you get!

Thanks for the video.

Ou Ning used to encourage this urban youth to design and create. In some way, his manifesto 'Get it Louder' is almost a call to free expression.

I think Ou Ning is self-serving and over-rated. His comments are closing in on the mark, but always seem to be too pop intellectual for me.
In agreement with PenguinA's comment above, a small correction is that Ou Ning doesn't consider himself a part of the Post 80s, merely a "commentator," or ivory tower sort of observer. I say, with over-rated exhibitions like Get it Louder, of which he is a co-curator (NOT head curator, nor sole responsibility for), a show has been heavily branded and sponsored by all kinds of trendy media, and is itself a kind of marketing technique, I can't really see what makes him different from the people who he tries to place himself above.

Youth culture politics in China interest me a great deal. "Blargh" and "PenguinA," and others, can you tell me where to look to find the real, progressive, on-the-ground efforts that are not media hype? I am especially interested in music and art made by women. Is there riotgrrl in China? Post here or write me at businessofutopia@gmail.com

This is an interesting video and even more interesting is the debate generated in these comments! We recently asked Ou Ning what he thinks of the ‘Post-80s‘ in the context of art and the culture scene.

“I am very interested in their energy and I work with many of them, too. Under one pole, some of them are very satisfied with their well-off lives and produce ‘comfortable’ works. Under another pole, some are creating meaningful impact already."

Read more on Art Radar Asia: http://artradarjournal.com/?p=9679


@PenguinA - I like what you said about "the more you speak, the more critical and articulate you get!"

In general I thought the interview was a bit shabby and not well spoken of the generation. It basically paints a picture of a unthinking, uncritical mass of kids who fail to grow up, stuck in adolescence and are obsessed with pop culture, lifestyle, commodities and consumerism. That is not a generation I want to identify with as one born in post-80's.

I agree that Get it Louder is a big branding machine for Chinese Contemporary culture and wants to jump on a band wagon of what may potentially define a new global culture as China gains economic dominance. Why can't people in the generation create their own platforms? Create own visions and ideas of culture? Why do they need a guru to represent them?

I would not say necessarily that the youth in HK are more critical or progressive. In fact they are more materialistic than in china. The post-80's movement has just been given a lot of attention in the media in HK in relation to particular art activist groups doing actions for preservation of cultural heritage. In general, the people/audiences in China are much more critical minded in general public discussions and open forums, but perhaps it is not reflected or hasn't been recognised within groups of artists.

This is a dangerous path of the industrialisation of culture, which I don't think people can fully separate between design/commodity/lifestyle, and criticality/creativity. I believe if art is to be truly inventive (not innovative), we need to recognise the devices that are in operation. Of media, and of industry. And we need to keep claim of them. That is why we need to dominate the social media networks, the blogs, twitter feed.. to define what is culture for ourselves and not my media mogols trying to make a profit from an already exploited generation. I appreciate however, that this generation needs a voice, but we also need jobs and opportunities, which are vastly dwindling in this crumbling economy.

I think we need to rethink culture, it's role, the role of artists, and the spaces we need to make it sustainable for not just those running the institution, but the people, artists, workers on the ground who create the true wealth and value for the economy.

I speak more, and perhaps one day I'll be articulate.


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