The Reading Room is Now Open to Public!


Aug 15, 2018

The Rockbund Art Museum is very pleased to announce the opening of The Reading Room, a public accessible study space and on-going archive. The Reading Room forms part of a new research platform co-initiated by the independent curator Biljana Ciric in collaboration with the museum.

On display in the first floor of the museum, the Reading Room will feature a diverse collection of primary archival material, critical readers, original catalogues, artist made books, and rare out-of-print locally produced publications focusing on the history of exhibition practices during the 90s in China and Southeast Asia. Audiences are invited to interact with a growing collection of publications, which have been compiled to help disseminate, draw awareness, and promote accessibility to different book forms and methods of documenting these exhibition histories. The Reading Room will also function as a collective bibliography, which will be digitalized as a searchable platform for audiences to search specific topic areas, fields of knowledge, and regional publishers featured in the collection.

New books will be acquired to enrich the Reading Room throughout the duration of the project, including publications and case studies provided by the invited speakers participating in the symposium. The Rockbund Art Museum is partnering with OCAT Institute, who has initiated an archival project based on Chinese contemporary art during the 1990s, and the research material from this project will provide an important contribution to the Reading Room. After 2018, the Reading Room will be realized elsewhere with other partnering institutions who share similar values in relation to this research.

The Reading Room also features a display vitrine, which will change throughout the duration of the project to exhibit a series of out-of-print or rare archival material to focus on different regions within Asia. The current display features a collection of publications and material related research exploring a history of exhibitions in Shanghai initiated by Biljana Ciric since 2007.This archive has emerged by tracing the historical development of the local contemporary art scene in Shanghai as it has evolved from 1979 up to 2009. The display of originals in the Read Room has been gathered from Biljana Ciric’s personal collection to reveal a chronology of key underground experiments of the past. They together highlight the role exhibitions played as gathering points to exchange knowledge, but also emphasize the ad-hoc methods used to publish and disseminate information related to these activities. Examples include the seminal 1991 Garage Show organized by Song Haidong, where for a brief two days artists used a basement room of an educational hall; 45 Degree as a Reason organized by Geng Jianyi, a documentation of finished works and preliminary artists’ sketches; and the APE shows curated by He Yang, Gong Jianqing, and Hu Jianping.

Throughout 2018, the research platform will focus on the following programs and activities:


  • Eighteen researchers will be invited to work on specific case studies focusing on exhibitions held across different contexts situated in China and Southeast Asia during the 90s. By exploring archival material, interviews with artists and curators, reviewing curatorial practices, and analyzing social and cultural contexts, researchers are invited to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of historical and contemporary art practices in Asia and towards the knowledge of their histories.


  • From July to November 2018, a large audience will be invited to attend a series of education events including lectures, conversations and panel discussions, which will highlight the working stages of selected case studies or to envision the future of exhibitions in relation to a wider cultural, historical, and anthropological perspective.


  • A symposium will be held from 24th to 25th November 2018, which will gather keynote speakers to contribute historical, cultural and theoretical analyses of exhibition histories in China, South East Asia and Central Europe. The selected researchers will each deliver an academic lecture based on their research. An in-depth publication will then be released in 2019 after the symposium.


  • From July to December 2018, the Reading Room will open on the first floor of the Rockbund Art Museum. It is not a fixed archival space, but is intended to be an on-going project that will develop throughout 2018. The collection is based on contributions by the researchers, Biljana Ciric, RAM education and curatorial teams, as well as external collaborators including OCAT Institute.


For specific event information, please check our WeChat official account: ram_ram and official website:


Special thanks to the following organizations and individuals for their contribution and support to the Reading Room

(In alphabetical order)


Afterall, Research Centre of UAL, London, UK

AIKE Gallery, Shanghai, China

Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway

Biljana Ciric

Brill Publisher, Leiden, the Netherlands

Five Arts Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

OCAT Institute, Beijing, China

Snoeck Publisher, Belgium

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