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April 2011

Pangbianr 旁边儿 in Chinese means ‘next to’, or ‘to one's side’, so it’s an appropriate name for a group based on the idea of community. Existing at the fringes of Beijing’s fringe culture, Pangbianr is a collective of Chinese and non-Chinese musicians, filmmakers, artists, distributors and general cultural enablers, working to create a DIY arts scene.

Pangbianr run events and a website – they also have an organic community farm beyond Beijing’s sixth ring road! But that’s another story, and you’ll have to check their website for that.

Below is my interview with Josh Feola, Pangbianr’s chief mover and shaker.

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Yang Fudong, Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest, 2003. 35mm film transferred to DVD. Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, China

If Documenta XI hadn't supported Yang Fudong in the completion of his film Estranged Paradise in 2002, we might have lost an important contemporary artist. More than five years into the film's production, Yang was considering leaving the world of contemporary art to take up a career in the commercial film industry - and then the Documenta festival stepped in.

As it is, we'll never know Yang's feature films (although we can be sure they would have been beautiful). Instead we have his delicate and poetic film and video pieces, and ongoing questions about where they should best be shown.

Chen Shuxia is a Sydney-based arts writer currently completing her Masters on Chinese contemporary art history at the University of Sydney. She spoke with Yang recently in Sydney, where he was attending the opening of his exhibition No Snow on the Broken Bridge showing at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) from 18 March – 4 June 2011.

Many thanks to Chen for this interview.

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