Generation Me: Lost in Transition @ Schoeni Art Gallery, HK

Han Yajuan
Generation Me: Lost in Transition – Niubi Newbie Project is now showing at Schoeni Art Gallery until April 7, putting the focus on a generation of young talent born post 1989.. They are the offspring of China’s one child policy and also the group coined as China’s ‘Me’ generation – a generation whose individualistic tendencies have been further encouraged by heavy influence of the internet, social networks and blogs, smart phones, comics, video games, digitalisation and globalisation.

Three years ago I wrote a couple of stories on his very interesting new generation and their works: one in  Readers Digest Asia  and the other one in  Newsweek.

For this Niubi exhibition in particular, the focus explores a situation that is prevalent to this post-80’s generation in China today – them being “lost in transition” from education to working. Particularly for those who have chosen the field of art to be their careers, they are faced with struggles once they graduate from the art academies and enter into the so-called “work force”.

liu guangguang - scattered dream
zhang qiang - labor series

Han Yajuan - Regimented Chic
They come face-to-face with the harsh reality of life overnight as they leave school to build their careers as artists; feeling helpless, disoriented and lost as they strive to find a foothold in the art scene, which is full of opportunities and resources but at the same time vast, subjective, competitive and merciless.

Being situated in a country that is going through rapid transformations, and in an art world and market that evolves so abruptly, how do artists at this stage of their career cope with this transition and establish themselves? Through their artworks each artist expresses his and her unique experience and feelings, aspirations, frustrations, sometimes with a cynical or whimsical take, creating raw originality and youthful energy.

(*“Niubi” is a slang swear word used often amongst Beijing youngsters. There is no official translation into English, but it would be something along the lines of “F&%$ing cool”.)