As a specialist research library which aims to advance scholarship in the field of contemporary Chinese art, the library at Dangrove reflects the diversity of ideas explored by artists from the White Rabbit Collection. The Dangrove Research Library represents a holistic approach to the study of contemporary Chinese art, where in addition to holding a significant range of artist monographs and exhibition catalogues, some very rare, our library also contains titles that traverse the philosophical, spiritual, historical, social and cultural contexts from which artists in the collection have emerged and continue to work today. In adopting this approach, we aimed to establish a library that encourages a wider and richer discourse surrounding contemporary art from Greater China.
During a recent visit to Sydney, renowned artist Liu Xiaodong generously donated a series of unique artist monographs and exhibition catalogues to the Dangrove Research Library and Archive. Among these donations were titles such as The Richness of Life: The Personal Photographs of Contemporary Chinese Artist Liu Xiaodong 1984-2006, a 600 page visually dense volume showcasing intimate and never before seen images of the artist’s personal and professional life. We were also very fortunate to receive a number of exhibition catalogues spanning across Liu Xiaodong’s extensive international career, such as Slow Homecoming: 1983-2018 Retrospective, The Three Gorges Project and Painting from Life, a beautifully crafted publication containing articles, essays and interviews alongside fold out reproductions of his most significant recent pieces.
Recently, we have been collecting resources relating to aspects of Chinese spirituality and faith. One such publication for the China Quarterly, entitled Religion in China Today, navigates the practice of religion in contemporary China, with scholarly articles covering areas from local community traditions, Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Qigong movements, Protestant and Catholic Christianity and state policies toward religion. This text provides a thorough review of the current spiritual state of affairs in China, from the strict regulation of belief to the enduring practices of traditional folk religions. Many of the artists in the White Rabbit Collection explore spiritual themes in their work from personal or critical perspectives, and this text provides valuable insights into the many manifestations and expressions of faith in China today. We have also been developing our collection of texts relating to the social sciences, with resources in areas such as Chinese feminism, class, politics, international relations and economics. The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism by Tani E. Barlow is an important recent acquisition which surveys the subject of women in twentieth-century China and aims to provide a history of the development of Chinese feminism.
Furthermore, in the field of Asian cultural studies, we have recently acquired the volume, Modern Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies in the Age of Theory, a collection of scholarly essays reflecting upon modern Chinese literature and culture through the lenses of film, art, history and popular culture. Essays in this volume provocatively suggest that ‘Chineseness’ can no longer be geographically bound to the mainland, and that such narratives must also encompass the international diasporic experience. This latter argument is of interest currently within the field of contemporary Chinese art, as artists negotiate their complex cultural identities and explore themes of transnationality and globalisation.
Over time we will expand the library collection to reflect advances in scholarly investigations of the ever-fascinating and ever-changing field of Chinese contemporary art. The works of artists held in the White Rabbit Collection reflect the complex contexts from which they emerge, and the Dangrove Research Library aims to acknowledge the nexus between artists and the world around them through presenting a wide collection of materials.
Nichola Palazzi, Dangrove Research Library Assistant