Brief CV
Manuela Lietti is an independent art critic and curator based in Beijing since 2003. She graduated from the Department of Oriental Studies at Venice University, completing her bachelor’s thesis on contemporary Chinese art. In 2007 she received her master’s degree in Chinese art history and art criticism from the Academy of Art and Design at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Since 2003 she has been involved in various projects in China and abroad as a curator, coordinator, researcher and writer. Among her other responsibilities, Manuela is the chief coordinator of the activities of the Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2010 she co-curated the Chinese section of the International Biennale of Sculpture of Carrara in Carrara, Italy. She worked for The Royal Embassy of the Netherlands and The Netherlands China Art Foundation as head researcher of visual arts in Beijing on “Map Beijing!” and other cultural projects. She has recently curated exhibitions including Omar Galliani’s solo exhibition “Chinese Diary” at the Beijing Italian Cultural Institute associated with the Italian Embassy in China (to be featured also at the 2011 Art Beijing Contemporary Art Fair), and “Shifting Identities. Between introspection and discovery,” part of the 2011 International Biennale of Photography and Video of Alessandria, which features the works of leading Chinese photographers and video artists. Her writings are published in various art catalogues and art magazines such as “Arte e Critica,” “Flash Art,” “Visual Production,” and “Art Gallery Magazine.”
Curatorial Statement
The Chinese notion of health is largely rooted in their distinct notion of the human body as an organic whole that mirrors the intimate connection between the outer world of nature and the inner world of the individual. Whether in biology, medicine or art, the body is regarded as an extension of the natural system, regulated by the same rules and subject to the same phenomena. This holistic approach is a central concept of Chinese culture: the unity of man and nature – tian ren he yi. Micro and macro experiences are linked: individual and world, private Self and public I. Merging with nature is necessary in order to preserve one’s physical and psychological health. This belief is embodied by efforts to bridge the dichotomy between man and environment, personal ego and public persona. Common people, especially the elderly, re-appropriate public spaces and the natural environment in a healing process for body and mind. The works of Dutch-born Berlin-based artist Marike Schuurman featured in “InnerScapes,” in particular the videos and photos shot in Beijing in 2008, reflect this practice, offering a lens through which to interpret the desire of contemporary Chinese people to integrate their lives in the natural order for their physical and mental health. Schuurman’s series of photographs and videos – shot in public parks, secluded woods hidden within the capital, green spots along the streets and other ordinary public spaces – portrays common people practicing taiqi, exercising and keeping fit by using what nature provides: tree branches, tree trunks, small patches of green. These natural elements function as props, helping people feel their body as alive and responsive. They help to reinvigorate it and reconnect one’s personal rhythm with the macro rhythm of nature. “Innerscapes” presents the kind of fitness equipment that can be found in Beijing’s public parks, streets, and other public spaces not necessarily conceived for fitness activities. With this equipment, “exercise stations” are created throughout the city. These provide not only an opportunity to exercise for those who cannot do so in natural spaces similar to those in Schuurman’s photographs and videos, but also an ideal platform that brings together the young and the old, preserving a sense of “neighborhood feeling of fellowship” that otherwise would be lost in the menacing concrete cityscape.
Projects realized (Selection)
2011 Shifting Identities. Between introspection and discovery”, 2011 International Biennale of Photography and Video of Alessandria, Alessandria, Italy; This project features the works of Chinese photographers and video artists belonging to different generations (Hai Bo, Li Yongbin, Ma Qiusha, Wang Ningde, Wang Tong, Qiu Anxiong, Chen Shaoxiong, Huang Ran) that in their works face the issue of identity, its relationship with the surrounding environment and with the ever-changing Chinese social domain. 2011 Omar Galliani Solo Exhibition Chinese Diary, Beijing Italian Cultural Institute attached to the Italian Embassy in China, Beijing, China (to be featured also in 2011 Art Beijing Contemporary Art Fair, Beijing, China); Featuring a selection of works on paper, on wood panel and on canvas, this show is the visual compendium of the drawings realized by Galliani during his travels to China, inspired by Chinese culture and aesthetics. 2010 Hu Youben: Emotions on Paper, Embassy House, Beijing, China Chinese Artists Re-design Italian Tarots (Zhang Dali, Zhan Wang, Huang Rui, Qiu Anxiong, Luan Xiao, Liu Ren, Bai Yiluo, Zeng Hao, Jia Aili), Italian pavilion 2010 Shanghai World, Expo, Shanghai, China