We interviewed Suitman a few weeks back, getting his perspective on The New Grand Tour he set up which saw a hand-picked group of American artists tour China to take in the cultural renaissance going on there. Photographer Davi Russo was a part of the tour, so we spoke to him about his experiences. Were you surprised by how dynamic the Chinese art scene is, given the rather conservative regime in power there? ‘This could be a two sided answer from me. I was able to see some contemporary photography inside some of the galleries I visited at 798 Area. I must say, there were a few times that I was extremely impressed, and somewhat even a little jealous to see the context of young emerging work being supported in Beijing. I would also say that after being introduced, I became a huge fan of and contributer to the photography being published in VISION magazine, which I think is something of a gem in China now’.
‘Although, on the flip-side, a few days before installing the New Grand Tour show in Beijing, I had learned that it would be in my best interests to censor quite a few of my photographs that had Tibetan images within them, due to the current situation there. This was my first experience of personal censorship. I can say it was a difficult process to proceed in during the time. But in hindsight, I felt it was an important experience for I – and any artist – to go through’.
Do you feel that ‘art’ always had a unifying effect across cultures or does it actually accentuate differences?
I think as artists, we put work on a table allowing there to be a personal, social and cultural interpretation of it. Through differences we can learn more about who we are as societies and individuals. My feeling is that art should be there to be digested and then discussed’.
Where to from here for the New Grand Tour?
‘Selfishly, I would like to see the The New Grand Tour to be able to make exchanges inside countries like Cuba, Russia or Korea next. But in all honestly, there is something to be exchanged anywhere you allow yourself to be open to’.