European Spaces of Culture


More Than Human
Kung Hei Fat Choy N+", part of a series of works called Kung Hei Fat Choy. The series is an exploration of nostalgia by ErGao and his team, dealing with issues of fluidity, hybridity and techno-culture in the context of rural-urban development. Image: ErGao

It is increasingly difficult for especially young Chinese to express themselves openly, and recent crackdowns on NGOs and advocacies speaking on behalf of suppressed groups has made it virtually impossible to voice activities related to non-conformity in public.

More Than Human is a festival to discuss and celebrate diversity beyond the spectrum of gender identity. As inclusion and expression is a core value of of the socio-political agenda in EU, co-creation between Chinese and European artists provides a good ground to invite underrepresented groups to discuss sensitive topics in programmes for cultural and intellectual exchange. It will take place at various venues in Beijing during ten weeks, opening on 27 May, with a core programme centered around a large-scale exhibition with works by artists from Europe, China and other countries.

This approach not only offers access and cultural legitimacy for local cultural institutions, it also gives the voices of Chinese artists and communities a rare chance to resonate in an international context in their own right without carrying the victim label.

Finding new ways for (post-)human inclusion and expression in Chinese society

The ways we live and learn about the world have undoubtedly been designed around humans — or more specifically, what we understand “a human” to be. However, the recent issues facing the world today have revealed the limits of our human-centric institutions and systems: human society, as a whole, faces a variety of issues, ranging from the concept of the “individual”, through the idea of a “nation state”, our relationship with our environment and how we treat the other beings that share our globe.

More Than Human invites artists, institutions, visitors and all other participants to imagine and discuss what it means to be post-human, thus challenging traditional assumptions of human nature, moral concern and social interaction. Hence, the project aims at addressing a large range of topics, including history and futurism, ethics and justice, migration and citizenship, trans-species relationships and ecologies, all via an interdisciplinary approach.

The art works produced and exhibited will allow both participants and audiences to seek inspiration from the frictions between species, being, time and technologies to imagine new ways to comprehend the ambiguous and complex realities we live in. An ongoing series of public activities of a more academic nature will complement the exhibition and its related art events (satellites) to build bridges between audiences, communities, and cultural institutions. Through talks, podcasts, and conferences they will address diversity in a cultural and social sense including isolation, displacement, environmental degradation, and mental health.

These programmes will be held in formats that can be contained within the delicate cultural and political climate of China. All in all, More Than Human will constitute a premiere platform in China for nonconformist perspectives and experimental intersection that connects and empowers underrepresented segments of the art scene and society, calls for more access and inclusion in cultural life through public engagements in ways that are inventive for the development of cultural relations between Europe and China.

Besides raising awareness of the structures that are employed to exclude non-normative thinking from societal realm and knowledge production, the project aims to develop into a platform for talented artists whose creations and productions face difficulties in China under the current state of things and subsequently to inspire NGOs and advocacies in civil society to join future collaborations.

The set-up with contact and bottom-up approach with local communities from the early stage holds the potential to foster new collaboration models for the cultural relations between Europe and China. As such, More Than Human should equally be regarded as an incubator for artistic and cultural explorations of our conventional perception of humans and thereby also, what it is going to take to become a more responsible human in the future.

Co-funded by