Galvanised by a vision to empower music and club cultures independent from state constraints, the Chinese underground is inventing new languages in sound and visual arts against a backdrop of rapid tech advancement. How are young people building ecosystems that can nourish communities?
Ashley Mi Ki Mak is a DJ and creative producer based in Glasgow via Hong Kong. Working with artists and brands internationally, her music career over the past ten years has seen her employed as the former global head of events at Boiler Room. Offering consulting in creative concepts, she has worked with the likes of Burberry, Nike, Gucci, Fendi, and Sonos, among others.
Zhao Renxiu is a filmmaker and entrepreneur based in Shanghai. She is the founding member of Subtropical Asia, an independent media platform celebrating the intersection of art, identity, and subcultures in the region. Past clients have included Midea, Vivo, Baidu Map, Adidas, Poly Group, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, ARTE, and the Embassy of Brazil in China.
Jake Newby is a writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in China. His focus is on Chinese youth culture and contemporary arts (especially music and film). He has written about China for The Wire, Associated Press, Financial Times, Courier, and the South China Morning Post. He was previously the managing editor at Chinese youth culture-focused platform RADII and, before that, at Time Out Shanghai. He has also provided consultancy services for a host of leading international brands.
Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee is a behavioural analyst on the cultural intelligence team at Canvas8. With a background in cultural studies, creative direction, and photography, she’s an interdisciplinary practitioner who works between the fields of visual art, cultural research, and education. She co-runs XING, a research and curatorial platform championing artistic practices from Southeast and East Asia, together with its diasporas.
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The audio-only social media app Clubhouse was briefly embraced by Chinese netizens as a space for uncensored political expression before it was blocked by authorities. Digital discussion remains largely censored in China but interest in the app shows a desire for freer social platforms.
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