IFCHINA director Jian Yi distributes donated goods as part of the "Spoonful of Rice" Project (photo from IFCHINA blog: http://artisimple.wordpress.com.cn)
By Isabella Tianzi Cai
The IFCHINA Original Art Studio Participatory Documentary Center launched its official website in November 2010. The center was founded by director Jian Yi. It is said to be China’s first non-profit art and cultural organization that collects and documents the stories of ordinary Chinese. Since its inauguration in June 2009 at Jinggangshan University, it has engaged in a variety of community building projects in Ji’an, a city in Jiangxi province.
Tailored to realize its goal to establish a working model that strengthens community ties and preserves local history and culture, currently projects in five areas are being carried out with the local urban community of Ji’an and the rural population in its adjacent villages. They are documentary films, documentary photography, documentary theater, oral history, and new socialist countryside design. The IFCHINA team reach out to people from every walk of life from unemployed workers, school children, college students, migrant workers, to rural women, children, and elderly. They not only teach them for free how to operate the digital camera and the digital camcorder but also conduct interviews with the ageing population who bear witness to the founding of new China. As some of us may not know, Ji’an is one of China’s most revered revolutionary cities. Jinggang Mountain in Ji’an is the birth place of China’s Red Army.
Other interesting events organized by IFCHINA include competitions in rural architectural design, community mural painting, local fashion shows, as well as local song contests. The student body of IFCHINA regularly provide community service too by distributing rice to low-income families in the area. More details of these events and projects can be read at Jian Yi’s ARTiSIMPLE blog.
According to Jian Yi and IFCHINA’s website, the center hopes to house all of the artworks created by building the Museum of Memories (MoM) down the road. Jian said that he was inspired by the Kentucky-based documentary center, Appalshop, which he visited while he was studying in the U.S. On the same note, this archive-cum-museum type of cultural institution is rapidly gaining popularity in China. Wu Wenguang and his wife choreographer Wen Hui’s Caochangdi Workshop Art Center, where the famous 2005 China-E.U. Self-Governance Village Documentary Project was based, has a library with similar functions. Jian was Wu’s assistant for the Village Documentary Project.
Members of IFCHINA stand outside the office. (Founders Jian Yi and Eva Song on the far right; dGenerate's Kevin Lee next to the Center's sign. photo from IFCHINA blog: http://artisimple.wordpress.com.cn)