CALL FOR ARTISTS: “Present Tense Biennial 2009”

Present Tense – (noun) the verb tense expressing action in the present time.

Present Tense
is also the title chosen to represent the Chinese Culture Center’s biennial exhibition program, the next installation of which goes on display May of 2009. True to its definition, Present Tense is designed to highlight work relevant to, and reflective of, contemporary youth culture in Chinese and Chinese American communities. The 2009 exhibition, aims to capture the energy of youth and the changes, for better or for worse, that such energy inevitably brings about. Uproar in Heaven will be comprised of new debut pieces, mostly (though not necessarily entirely) from young artists.

2009 will be a particularly significant year for Present Tense. The exhibit goes on display a few days after the 90th anniversary of the May 4th student led revolts in China, which dramatically altered China’s political and intellectual landscape. Furthermore, 2009 comes 40 years after reconstruction began in the wake of the cultural revolution (1969), 30 years after the beginning of China’s contemporary art scene (with the first “Stars” exhibition), and 20 years after the Tiananmen Square incident (1989), all events in which China’s youth had a major impact. Artists are encouraged to submit work which responds to these events, and which speaks to the dynamic roles young people have played in China’s history.

Bottom line, Present Tense Biennial 2009 strives to deliver energetic, rebellious, even seditious art exploring the feeling of being young, a feeling connecting the youth of 2009 with those active in 1919, 1969, 1979 and 1989.


Q. What exactly is the difference between Present Tense and Uproar in Heaven?
A: Present Tense is the exhibition series (we hold a Present Tense exhibition every two years). Uproar in Heaven is the title for the particular Present Tense exhibition being held in 2009.

Q: Do I have to be a Chinese or Chinese American artist to participate?
A: No, but your work must reflect contemporary youth culture in Chinese and/or Chinese American communities.

Q: Do I have to be a certain age to submit my work?
A: No, but as the focus of this exhibition is youth, young artists are especially encouraged to apply. Even so, older artists whose work exudes youthful dynamism will still gladly be considered.

Q: Does my work have to respond to all the dates and events you mentioned?
A: Not at all, but it does need to reflect the spirit of these events, i.e. change and the rebellious energy of youth. We would still love, however, to get some submissions which do respond to these events.

Q: How many works should I submit?
A: At least 10, no more than 20.

Q: What kinds of mediums do you accept?
A: Anything that can possibly be displayed in a gallery: photography, painting, sculpture, installation, video, sound art, graphic design, and any new or experimental genres.

Q: What exactly do you mean by “new debut pieces”?
A: To be considered “new”, your work must have been created after January 1st of 2007. By debut, we simply mean the work you submit must not have already been physically publicly displayed.

Q: How do I submit my art for consideration?
A: There are two ways:

1. Visit our online gallery at, and create an artist profile if you do not already have one. Make sure to completely fill out your profile, as this will serve as your exhibition application. Upload your images, then join our Uproar in Heaven group which you can find under “Groups & Calls”, or at Simply joining the group will let us know you would like to be considered.

2. If you would prefer not to have your work displayed on our online gallery, you can send us an e-mail at You may not send more than 10 images, and images should not be larger than 500k. Please send us your contact information, artist bio, resume, and your completed exhibition submission form.

Q: What is the deadline?
A: February 1st, 2009.

If you have any further questions, please e-mail