DAVID QUADRIO Let’s begin by discussing MadeIn, the “contemporary art creation company” you founded in 2009. How is it structured? What makes the company different from a production workshop like Murakami’s Hiropon Factory?
XU ZHEN The company consists of MadeIn Gallery and the brand XuZhen; we also run supporting media, such as the Artbaba Internet forum. It’s a very comprehensive operation, by no means limited to artistic projects: we have people who focus on project management, creative, administration, etc. As of now, we have around 50 staff, with an office space in Songjiang, Shanghai.
I believe that the difference between MadeIn and other art companies/enterprises will become more obvious in the future. Some claim that we work similarly to Jeff Koons, in that we are both a studio and a company. For me, the question depends more on the scale to which we expand ourselves in the future. As of now, our current mode as a company is a kind of art in itself, almost as if the company is an artist. In this age, whether you’re practicing art or venturing in business, you are nonetheless in a creative process. The spirit of the time provides art with an abundance of space and possibilities.
DQ Still, this question remains: How do the company’s various outlets relate to each other? For instance, MadeIn launched the brand “XuZhen” in 2013, producing significant new pieces under that label. But after a few years, the brand reappeared under MadeIn’s name. How does this shifting identity influence the actual creation, production, and marketing processes?
XZ From our perspective, there aren’t many restrictions. It’s like venturing into business: As you start, you realize that the market is actually different from what you had envisioned; to survive, you must adapt and alter many of your original intentions. But none of this changes your end goal, which is to enhance one’s sense of existence. For me, what matters is that everything is progressing towards a better state. It’s unnecessary to declare to what end we should be changing, because it’s all viable. As long as it is healthy and positive, evolution is a strong gene—and as for the market, the academic world, or historical positioning, none of these are of great concern to us.