Following international standards for creative communities, the Guangzhou Redtory Art & Design Factory District, of which the RMCA is a part, has nurtured a wide range of cultural industries, institutions, outlets and amenities to create a living hub in the center of the city - a Central Art District (CAD) - that complements the Central Business District (CBD) nearby.
The name “Redtory”refers to the spirit of the time in the 1950s, when the canning and food processing factories that characterize the site were built, in that it was an age that was both “red and devoted.”
In a material sense, the name reflects the red-brick architectural complexes of the repurposed former factories that cover the district that in the Chinese language sounds like both the “红(red)专(devoted)厂(factory)” and the “red brick factory.” Its English name, “Redtory,” however, perhaps in a sonorous combination of opposites, is derived from the collision of the words “red” and “factory”.
David Elliott is a British art historian, curator, writer and teacher who has directed museums in Oxford (MoMA 1976-1996), Stockholm (Moderna Museet, 1996-2001), Tokyo (Mori Art Museum, founding director 2001-2006), and Istanbul (Museum of Modern Art, 2007). He is currently Vice Director and Senior Curator at the Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA) and Arts District in Guangzhou and chairman of the Advisory Board of MOMENTUM in Berlin.
He has held guest professorships at the Humboldt University, Berlin (Rudolf Arnheim Professor in the History of Art 2008) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Department of Cultural Management 2008-2016).
A specialist in Soviet and Russian avant-garde, as well as in modern and contemporary Asian art, he has published widely in these fields as well as on many other aspects of contemporary art. In 2008-10 he was Artistic Director of The Beauty of Distance: songs of survival in a precarious age, the 17th Biennale of Sydney; in 2011-12 he directed The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: rebirth and apocalypse in contemporary art, the inaugural International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Kyiv; from 2012 to 2014 he was Artistic Director of A Time for Dreams, the IV International Moscow Biennale of Young Art; and from 2014 to 2016 he was Artistic Director of The Pleasure of Love, the 56th October Salon in Belgrade.
During 2015-18 his exhibitions have included Art from Elsewhere. International contemporary art from UK galleries (Birmingham, Eastbourne, Bristol), BALAGAN!!! Contemporary Art from the Former Soviet Union and Other Mythical Places (Berlin), Shen Shaomin THERE IS NO PROBLEM (Guangzhou), Social Fabric: new work by Kwan Sheung Chi and Marianna Hahn (Hong Kong) and Bread & Roses: Four Generations of Kazakh Women Artists (Berlin).
Art and Trousers: Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Asian Art, his new book, will be published by ArtAsiaPacific, Hong Kong/London in 2019.09.18.
FORCED CLOSURE OF REDTORY MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND REDTORY ART+DESIGN FACTORY GUANGZHOU
It is with inexpressible regret that we are forced to announce the immediate closure of the Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA), along with the whole district of Redtory Art+Design Factory of which it is part, from 21 November 2019. After a long period of disputation, the relevant authorities have given three days’ notice for evacuation of all premises and we have no alternative but to comply. Our current exhibition Connections and Fractures, Images of Transcendence from the Collection of RMCA and all other related exhibitions and events have now been canceled and closed.
Redtory began ten years ago when a small group of people with lofty ideals in Guangzhou realised that the derelict, recently evacuated, 17 hectares site of a former food processing and canning works which had gone through half a century could be transformed to a cultural landmark open to the public, an urban space providing a much-needed local facility for contemporary art, design, architecture, education and leisure. Under the guidance of the government and the cooperation of all sectors of society, the project was put into practice.
The district was one of few surviving industrial heritage sites from the early days of the People’s Republic when its architecture and technology had been gifted by the USSR as a sign of friendship. Unlike other such gifts, surviving in other parts of China, the style of its architecture was not in the prevailing neo-classical style of Stalinism, but in the functional, modernist style of Constructivism that by the 1940s and ‘50s had become suspect in the mainstream discourse of the USSR, but which could be tolerated away from the centre.
During its ten years of existence, the RMCA has consolidated a vital part of the fabric of the nation’s heritage and has also provided a platform for artists, designers and architects from all over the world to create and exhibit their work. In addition, it has staged a large number of multifaceted exhibitions of local, national and international importance, as well as the related programmes for public education, cultural lectures, international artist-in-residence creation, off-campus practice, and urban communication. This, with its comfortable, low-rise architecture, its relaxed and beautiful ambience, its multifarious bookshops and restaurants, the sports field at its centre, the parkland throughout the district, and countless ancient trees, will all faced with their doom and gloom.
Even though we have never sought any financial support or policy preference from the relevant authorities, we expected that they would understand and appreciate the scale of the efforts made by various cultural and art organizations in the Redtory artdistrict, especially by RMCA, which has presented their cultural significance in this city and their contribution to an era of soft power. The lack of vision is deeply disquieting, and what we spent ten years to finally achieve is indifference. As the wreckers’ machinery moves in, and the past dissolves before our eyes so does our efforts.
How will the benefit of a rather matured urban creative space be replaced by yet more needless and characterless tower blocks?
In distress, we still want to express our sincere gratitude to all peers and citizens who have supported and helped the Redtory and participated in its various projects and activities! All along, their constantly encouraging and criticizing urged us to move forward. Without everyone's joint efforts, the Redtory could not become one of the cultural marks of a famous city with its long-standing history.