WARE Recipient to Study Beijing Punks

10 September 2013

Wellington photographer John Lake has been selected for this year’s Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE).

Well known for his Up The Punks exhibitions of Wellington’s punk scene from the late 70s to now, John is going to Beijing to explore and photograph the Chinese capital’s own punk scene.

 “It'll be interesting to see how Western punk music and culture have been re-interpreted by Beijing youth. Punk scenes have been emerging in countries throughout Asia over the last couple of decades as borders have become increasingly porous to trade, migration, information and outside cultures,” he says.

 John says Beijing’s punk culture emerged post-Tiananmen Square amidst wider social and economic reforms.

 “Western punk culture has been adopted by some as a means of expressing their experience of these enormous changes. It has its own interpretation and context in the same way that generations of Wellington punks have re-interpreted and built their own scene or communities through gigs, zine publishing, music releases, political activism and other social activities.”  

 As part of the WARE programme, internationally renowned video artist Li Xiaofei arrives in Wellington from Shanghai on 1 October and will be resident at the Bolton Street cottage for two months. He has exhibited alongside the likes of Yoko Ono and is also director of the Fei Contemporary Art Centre in Shanghai. While being hosted by Toi Pōneke Arts Centre he wants to investigate Wellington factories and manufacturing plants and document activity there as a continuation of his Assembly Line project.

 “Li Xiaofei finds beauty in extraordinary places,” says Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Culture Director Jennifer King. “It will be fascinating to see how he deals artistically with Wellington’s production lines compared with those he has encountered in China.”

 The WARE programme is a collaboration between the Foundation and Wellington City Council. Jennifer says the WARE programme provides a valuable opportunity for artistic exchange with Asia.

 “Cultural understanding is the foundation of strong and enduring relationships between New Zealand and the countries of Asia.”

 John Lake returns from Beijing in December and early next year will exhibit artworks created during his residency.