At the end of 2019, or the beginning of 2020, when the coronavirus first emerged, Wuhan became the first city worldwide affected by this deadly disease. It then rapidly spread to the entire country, and further on to Europe, America and the rest of the world. Restrictions of travel, instructions of keeping social distance, and finally the lockdown of districts, towns and cities were enforced to help slow down its transmission. We are all facing this challenge of experiencing life at distance of two meters away from others.

In light of the global coronavirus crisis and the unprecedented scale of disruption it has caused, this series of virtual research seminars explores the role of contemporary arts and related fields through critical and creative discussions surrounding present-day experiences, aiming to assist future community building and cross-cultural understanding. This seminar series provides an urgent platform to obtain first hand materials of participants’ experiences, perceptions and reflections on the pandemic. This collaboration between the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA), Birmingham City University and the Academy for International Visual Arts (AIVA), Shanghai invites leading figures in the subject areas of anthropology, architecture, art, art museums, curating, design, film and photography from the Chinese-speaking world and different intellectual perspectives. Seminar discussions will explore a myriad of relevant issues stemming from the pandemic including the notions of distance and spatialisation, separation and isolation, communication and mobility, discipline and surveillance, and community and collectiveness. Our eight distinguished guests will contribute in the series of weekly seminars starting from 6 June (Saturday) 2020. These screen-recorded interviews will also be edited and subtitled as documentary available online to a wider audience.

This seminar series forms part of a wider response to the Covid-19 epidemic by CCVA which also includes a special conference and journal edition on the subject, details of which can be found here:  We hope that many of the conversations hosted as part of the seminar series will in turn, be published in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect) in order to provide a polyvocal archive of lived experience of speakers from both academic and practice-based backgrounds.

The BiliBili stream will take place on Saturdays 9am UK time and 4pm Chinese time.  The talks will be in Mandarin Chinese only but translated into English at a later date. You can access the meetings via the following link:

Please see below for our schedule and list of guest speakers:

6 June 2020
Xiang Biao
Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford

13 June 2020
Zhang Peili
Artist, Professor at China Academy of Art (Hangzhou), Director of OCAT (Shanghai)

20 June 2020
Pi Li
Sigg Senior Curator, M+ (Hong Kong)

27 June 2020
Zhang Zikang
Director of CAFA Art Museum, Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing)

4 July 2020
Gu Zheng
Professor, School of Journalism, Fudan University (Shanghai), photography theorist

11 July 2020
Li Lin
Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder, JNBY

18 July 2020
Zhang Zhen
Associate Professor, Director of Asian Film and Media Initiative, New York University

Chaired by Jiang Jiehong
Professor, School of Art, Director of Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University