by Miriam Hettwer

One of our classes at Fudan University Shanghai was quite different from the others. When you study Media and Communication, you usually would expect courses about Media Practice, Media Economy, Media Politics etc. But many people forget that art is also a way of communication with strong visual statements and messages. Hence, the class “Contemporary Art in China” gave us many new interesting insights about Chinese art, history and culture as well as young modern artists. We also reflected on critical artwork referring to the artist’s personal and socio-cultural background. Together with other international students, we shared international views and discussed them.

One of the highlights of this class was the excursion to Swatch Art Peace Hotel and Christieʼs auction house. The Swatch Art Peace Hotel is an institution for artists from all over the world initiated by Swatch. It is not very well known and not open to the public in order to protect the artists living there. Hence, it was a great pleasure for us to be invited to visit the place with our professor. The Swatch Art Peace Hotel contains not only one floor with fantastically designed suites, all sticking to a different theme and atmosphere; moreover, it is a place for uprising artists to live, work and be inspired without any pressure. The artists are invited to stay up to six months and get their own room as well as working studios. A free, healthy breakfast will be served every day and for lunch and dinner they can use the huge kitchen in the common area. Everything is just overwhelming in the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, not only the modern and very spacious design of the rooms and the stylish furniture, but also the amazing location directly on the Bund with the most beautiful view in Shanghai. While we were visiting the Hotel, we had the chance to meet one of the artists in his studio working on his current project, which was presented just days after his atelier. It was so interesting to get insights in his way of working, where his ideas come from, which materials and methods he uses, how his art pieces progress until it becomes a whole exhibition. In my opinion, this excursion was the “key moment” where we realized the power of art and the important role of art in the field of communication.

Furthermore, the trip inspired us to our final presentations and papers. In groups of four people, we chose contemporary Chinese artists and held a 45 minutes presentation including his/her background, motives, key messages and a great discussion on the art pieces. Every group came up with a different very interesting artist, each of them with another amazing story and message.