Exterior Panoramic View of Hive Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing. Courtesy of Hive Center of Contemporary Art (Beijing)

Launched in 2019 the Exposure Award provides a complimentary exhibition platform to any gallery with a solo presentation of experimental work by an artist pushing the boundaries of photography. This year’s recipient is Hive Center for Contemporary Art’s represented artist Cao Shu, for his work Roam Simulator. Set up as a video game, this interactive installation takes audiences on a journey through a desert town to explore a person’s life, personal history and memory. 

We catch up with Hive Center for Contemporary Art, to discover more about their history and why their were drawn to enter the Exposure Award. 

What was it that attracted you to participate in the Exposure Award?

It’s the first time for Hive Center for Contemporary Art to take part in the Exposure Award. While the Award is young, the expert panel of judges and international outreach makes the Award one of the most influential. No contemporary art gallery would want to miss it.

As a photography gallery, what was the greatest challenge for Hive in the past 18 months?

The pandemic’s impact on the entire art ecosystem is continuous. For Hive, apart from online operations, it’s more important to promote offline links with artists and collectors based on specific projects.

Why did you choose Cao Shu to attend the Exposure Award?

Cao Shu is a visual artist with distinctive artistic language. After years of exploring his chosen themes, his unique philosophical insights are clearly evident in his works. He’s an expert in weaving personal memory into interactive game art. What he has created is not only an immersive visual landscape, but also a powerful piece to spur audience’s thinking about subjectivity. His artworks draw a rare balance between technology and emotion, or excitement and critical thinking.

Who do you think are the intended audience of Cao Shu’s award-wining project?

Cao Shu’s works are diverse and are able to provide the full range of experiences to different audience. The award-winning work, Roam Simulator, involves a dialogue with himself and then with the audience. It can motivate the inner-experience of different individuals and is of universal significance beyond culture and identity.

© Cao Shu, Roam Simulator, 2021. Courtesy of the artist

What are the three elements to a successful art fair?

Persuasive artworks, attractive exhibits, and influential promotion.

Can you tell us about how you’ve worked with the artist to present their award-winning series at PHOTOFAIRS? What are you incorporating into the display to help convey Shu’s overall concept?

The prize-winning artwork is not purely a photographic work. The artist started by taking into account all the materials needed and the environment of its physical space so as to create a comfortable area for gaming. The audience are free to explore an imagined planet covered with a mental map created by Cao Shu where they can look for their own emotional memories and the meaning of existence.

Interior View of Hive Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing. Courtesy of Hive Center of Contemporary Art (Beijing)

“Hive denotes the collective mode of living of humans and the complicity of its thinking, which perfectly fits the social structure of China and the status quo of Chinese contemporary art.” Can you expand on this?

Although the current society is complex and changeable, it’s impossible for contemporary art to exist alone, so the name “Hive” is chosen. And the core of Hive art is to present diverse and complex art ecosystem.

When planning an exhibition, will Hive Center for Contemporary Art consider some environmental factors like the location? And will local audience or artists influence the promotion of projects or future development?

Of course, there are many influences for an exhibition. Whatever the theme is, it’s conceivable to plan an exhibition from the perspective of geography, cultural identity, or artistic ideas, because the key is to align with Hive’s academic research and market examination. Hive wants to establish art links that transcend geographic boundaries while looking after local market at the same time.