Developing a research library in the highly specific field of Chinese contemporary art from scratch is no mean feat, and when I began this work two years ago I was keenly aware of the problems I would encounter: key texts may prove to be out of print or obscenely expensive, the cataloguing process was an arcane mystery, and the task of creating a library that would be a significant destination for scholars, researchers, university students and curators seemed daunting indeed.
What I did not predict was what a joyful and absorbing task it would be as row after row of shelves in the beautiful Dangrove library were filled with neatly labelled, catalogued books and journals. We decided early on that our library collection policy would be dictated by what the artists in the collection speak about in their interviews with White Rabbit, so beyond art-specific texts the library also contains books about Chinese history, politics, sociology, religion, philosophy and the traditional arts and crafts of porcelain, textiles, wood-block printing, carving, inkstones, papercutting and even garden design. It also became clear that it is not possible to understand contemporary (post-1980s) art from China without an understanding of how art developed historically, in both imperial and revolutionary eras. Our net widened, and important gaps were filled in this ongoing process of providing a background and context for understanding the work of artists in the collection, in conjunction with the archive.
Luise Guest, 7 January 2019