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4-5 mai 23, (Re)Made in China: material dis:connections, art and creative reuse

The creative reuse of ‘made-in-China’ materials has a short history in the daily practices of middle-class households, but a long history in art, craftsmanship and design. When Ming-dynasty potters in China’s ‘porcelain capital’ Jingdezhen made plates, cups and bowls, they could not have known that their work would be reused to decorate European sites, such as the ceiling of Lisbon’s Santos Palace and the wall panels of Berlin’s Charlottenburg Castle. Similarly, factory workers and ragpickers on contemporary Chinese garbage dumps may be unaware of artworks made entirely of discarded objects that are being exhibited in exclusive urban art spaces around the world. Despite material flows that span the globe, value and knowledge systems connected to such materials are disrupted in two main ways. First, these flows traverse cultural boundaries, allowing for radical changes in systems of material evaluation (e.g. enabling the perception of ‘trash as treasure’). Second, transcultural artistic research reuses and re-evaluates seemingly ‘meaningless’ garbage, turning it into a resource for multi-million-dollar art installations and prized design innovations. As one of the world’s leading waste-receiving and waste-producing countries, China is a particularly important case study.


This event understands ‘recycling’ as a range of creative practices, including the upcycling of biodegradable, inorganic and manmade materials, as well as the appropriation of architectural fragments (spolia), objets trouvés) and industrially produced items elevated to the status of art (ready-mades). It aims to probe art and design in these categories:


  • Historic recycling practices in Ming and Qing-dynasty China
  • Historic examples of transcultural recycling of Chinese matter in Europe
  • Creative reuse in modern and contemporary Chinese art and design
  • Recycling in contemporary design outside of the ‘art world’


Bringing together artists, curators and scholars from the fields of history, art history, Chinese studies and the history of science and technology, the participants will fill a lacuna in research by scrutinising, conceptualising, and theorising early modern, modern, and contemporary practices of the recycling of Chinese materials across China and Europe. The event will contribute to a non-hegemonic history of art, craftsmanship and design that touches upon urban hubs and rural ecologies, the works of artists and artisans as well as the products of craftsmen and factory workers across social, historic and cultural divides, complementing Western-centric theories of creative reuse.




DAY 1, Thursday May 4, 2023


Venue: super+CENTERCOURT, Adalbertstraße 44, 80799 München


15:00 Registration and coffee, cakes, fruits in the exhibition traces

15:30 Artist talk by liina klauss,

Conversations about Value and Waste / An Artist’s Perspective

16:00 Response by Silvia Gaetti (GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts) followed by Q&A

Moderator: Sophie-Charlotte Bombeck (super+CENTERCOURT)



Venue: Room E.EG.28 (auditorium annex building), Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Akademiestraße 4, 80799 München and online (via Zoom)


17:15 Lisa Claypool (University of Alberta),

The Trash Heap of History: Garbage and Design in Chinese Visual Culture

Moderator: Susanne Witzgall, Akademie der Bildenden Künste München (cx)


19:00 Conference Dinner


DAY 2, Friday May 5, 2023

Venue: Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Maria-Theresia-Str. 21, 81675 Munich



9:00 Meiqin Wang (California State University), On the Ground of the Discarded: Ecological Materialism and Socially Engaged Public Art in Chongqing 

9:30 Response by Simone Müller (University of Augsburg) followed by Q&A

10:00 Anna Grasskamp (Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect/University of St Andrews), Material Dis:connections: The Urban Fabric of Hong Kong, Jewelry, and Creative Reuse

10:30 Response by Ursula Ströbele (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte) followed by Q&A

Moderator: Andrea Frohne (Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect/Ohio University)


11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break



11.30 Mei Mei Rado (Bard Graduate College), Chinese Dress Refashioned in Europe:

From Eighteenth-Century Indoor Robes to Twentieth-Century Couture

12:00 Response by Hanni Geiger (Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect) followed by Q&A

12:30 Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick/Leiden University),

Repair, Reuse, Recycle: The Circular Economy of Asian Goods in Europe

13:00 Response by Max Oidtmann (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich) followed by Q&A

Moderator: Siddharth Pandey (Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect)


13:30 – 14:30 Lunch Break



14:30 Kyoungjin Bae (Kenyon College),

Wastefully Scant: Affordance and the Cycle of Red Sandalwood at the Qing Court

15:00 Response by Michael Risse (Technical University of Munich) followed by Q&A

15:30 Ilse Sturkenboom (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich),

Recycling the Chinese Idea of Decorated Paper in the Early Modern Islamicate World

16:00 Response by Monica Klasing Chen (Heidelberg University) followed by Q&A

Moderator: Jonas Stuck (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)


16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break


17:00 Concluding Remarks by Kassandra Nakas (Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz)

17:30 General discussion

Moderator: Anna Grasskamp


18:00 End


Concept and organization: Anna Grasskamp


Käte Hamburger Research Centre global dis:connect at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich

with support of the School of Art History at University of St Andrews

Keynote in collaboration with Akademie der Bildenden Künste (cx)


Registration via: remade.in.china.conference@gmail.com

Click here to download the programme.