Tired of stuffy Bund art shows, the confusing maze of M50 galleries and artists you’ve never heard of but prices that make you think you should? Prefer cheap booze, slammin’ music and artists doing their thing live and in the flesh? Then we think it’s time you were introduced to Bree Harrison, Executive Producer of Dyce Productions, and her idea of artistic hand-to-hand combat.
We caught up with Bree to get the scoop on what Dyce is doing in Shanghai and why we should get hyped about the city’s FIRST Artist Battle this Saturday night at 800Show.
Give us some background on Dyce Productions. How’d it get started and where does it fit within the Shanghai art community?
It basically started back in 2002 in Michigan in collaboration with 280 Studios, which is based out of Boston. I came to China and then wanted to do something in Shanghai. I found some others interested and we tried to get things going.
Where: 800Show 800 Changde Lu, 常德路800号
Starts: Doors open at 7pm, Battle starts at 8pm
What we have now is an independent group of local artists, designers, writers, performers, and musicians who like to promote each other’s creations. We want to strengthen the artistic community and its ties to local business and the local community, with the hope that it will create a better market for locally produced art and make Shanghai a cooler and more creative place to be.
Is that how the idea of an Artist Battle came about then?
Well I have been involved with artist battles since the first one in 2002 in the US. That was in Michigan and we have done seven of them since. This will be the first artist battle in China though and we are really excited to showcase Shanghai’s artists and get them as much exposure as possible.
Why an Artist Battle and not some other type of event to showcase local talent?
China’s art scene seems so disjointed. It’s like everyone is out there kind of doing their own thing trying to make it. A lot of the focus is on money and that can create a very unhealthy creative environment. We wanted to feature something that wasn’t about money but more about the creative process and giving others in the community a chance to meet and observe the artists personally.
So what exactly goes down at an Artist Battle? Should we expect painters brandishing brushes as swords or what?
Its not quite that intense, but it will be awesome art. Basically, we will gather all of the artists around 8pm and they have three hours to create whatever they want. They are given a blank canvas and asked to bring their own materials. They get the green light and go at it. After the three hours are up, the audience will have the chance to vote on their favorite piece of work. While it is a “battle” we don’t necessarily think of it as a competition but more as art as entertainment.
How will this differ from, say, a trip to the local art gallery?
This is way different than a walk through a gallery. It will be loud. It will be high energy. It will be full of action and you will get to see the artists up close and personal, which hopefully will add to your appreciation of the art being created. You may watch one artist for a few minutes, take a walk around and come back an hour later and the direction they took could be completely opposite of what you expected. Plus, near the last 15 minutes, you will see the artists begin to freak a bit and go crazy trying to fit in that last perfect brush stroke or piece of the sculpture.
How were the artists selected? What are some of their backgrounds?
We had 20 slots to fill and we just put it out onto the art community airwaves and people started signing up. It was first come first serve with about a 50-50 split between foreign and Chinese artists. Their backgrounds range from contemporary painting to graffiti to mixed media to Chinese landscape painting. There will be a lot of different talents on display and this will be a first-time battle experience for them as well.
What else can we expect at the show?
We will have music from DJ’s Edamame, Ludovic Allen and other special guests as well as visuals from VJ Tina Sparkle. Plus, there will be prize giveaways from our local sponsors and cheap drinks (beer 20RMB, wine 30RMB). There will also be a special dance performance from a hip-hop group based here in Shanghai. But really, the main attraction is walking around and seeing how the different artists’ works evolve and being part of the overall experience.