We are pleased to announce the recipient of the Asymmetry Curatorial Fellowship at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Zoe Diao, a Chinese scholar and curator currently based in New York, has been awarded the six-month Fellowship, which begins on 20 September 2021.

The Curatorial Fellowship at Whitechapel Gallery is one of three Asymmetry placements that will begin this Autumn in London in partnership with leading UK institutions. In October, Asymmetry will induct their first Scholar onto the ‘Advanced Practices ’PhD programme at Goldsmiths, University of London, and their second Curatorial Writing Fellow at the Chisenhale Gallery, London.

Asymmetry is an independent non-profit foundation dedicated to nurturing curatorial practices and the development of cultural knowledge in and about Asia through global exchange. The Curatorial Fellowships place curators in pioneering European institutions, sharpening their skills and expanding their networks, whilst enabling the institutions to gain from the Fellow’s specific expertise and perspective on Chinese and East Asian contemporary art. By facilitating international opportunities for curators and academics from this region, Asymmetry seeks to integrate Chinese and East Asian contemporary art and curatorial practice into a wider art world discourse.

The Asymmetry Curatorial Fellowship at Whitechapel Gallery is offered to one mid-career curator who identifies with Greater Chinese culture and heritage (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), based in the region or internationally. The programme provides the curator with a unique opportunity to gain training, skills, and experience in the curatorial workings of Whitechapel Gallery, which has a strong track record of providing training for curators, including through its new MA Curating Art and Public Programmes with London South Bank University.

Additionally, the Fellow will join the Delfina Foundation’s renowned residency programme, which will offer further professional opportunities as well as accommodation.

Selected from a high-quality shortlist following an Open Call, Zoe Diao will focus on two related projects – conducting research on art dealers in the 1970s who supported the development of artists way beyond any commercial remit and contributing to the delivery of a major exhibition about modern and contemporary artists’ studios acrossthe world. Additionally,she will have the opportunity to contribute to Delfina Foundation’s programme by presenting her research at internal events and public programmes run by Delfina Foundation.

Yan Du, Founder and Director of Asymmetry, said: “Zoe s profile as curatorial practitioner, researcher and writer stands out as her work reflects both her academic and practical skillsets which she has acquired across a range of disciplines and within different cultural contexts. We are excited to welcome Zoe as the next curatorial Fellow at Whitechapel Gallery and look forward to learning where her project takes her.

Lydia Yee, Chief Curator, Whitechapel Gallery, said: “We are delighted to be able to partner with Asymmetry to offer this fellowship to a talented emerging curator. Zoe’s strong background in exhibition making combined with rigorous academic training and research on East Asian artists provide a solid foundation for the work she will undertake at Whitechapel Gallery. We are looking forward to furthering cross-cultural dialogues with her.” 

Notes to Editors

– The Asymmetry Curatorial Fellowship runs from 20 September 2021 – 20 March 2022.
– Partners of the Fellowship are Whitechapel Gallery and Delfina Foundation

About Zoe Diao

Zoe Diao (b. 1989 Changchun, China) is a scholar and curator living and working in New York. She is currently interested in environmental humanities, material culture and collecting history. Diao received a BA Art History from China Academy of Art, Hangzhou in 2012. With support from China Scholarship Council, she pursued her postgraduate study in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, UK and received her first MA in 2014. From 2014 to 2018, Diao worked as Assistant Curator at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, was a specialist at Xiling Yinshe Auction; and worked as Exhibition Manager at Long March Space, Beijing. Among the many exhibitions she worked on, she co-curated William Kentridge: Notes Towards a Model Opera (2015) with UCCA Director Philip Tinari, and curated New Directions: Li Ming (2015-16).

Diao moved to New York in 2018 and earned a Masters in Art in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University in 2019. Her graduation thesis focused on East Asian artists in New York during the 1950s to 1960s. Diao is currently a contracted associate researcher of global art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she was a curatorial intern in 2018-19. She is currently working as a researcher for an eminent art historian. Diao has translated and edited several arts publications in the past ten years, including Inside a Book a House of Gold: Artist’s Edition for Parkett (2012); Six Drawing Lessons (2015); Peter Doig: Cabins and Canoes, The Unreasonable Silence of the World (2017) and M+ Sigg Collection (2021).

About Asymmetry Art Foundation

Asymmetry is an independent London-based non-profit art foundation dedicated to nurturing curatorial practices and the development of cultural knowledge in and about Asia through global exchange. Rather than a physical bricks-and-mortar space hosting exhibitions, Asymmetry operates as a transnational, transdisciplinary, and forward-thinking organisation that fosters meaningful cultural exchange between creative practitioners, international institutions, and audiences through a range of initiatives.

Asymmetry was founded by Hong Kong and London based art collector and patron Yan Du in 2019 after recognising that the advancement of curatorial practices (including the work of academics, writers and thinkers) is essential to the arts eco-system, but not widely supported.

About Whitechapel Gallery

For over a century, the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler and Frida Kahlo, to contemporaries such as Zarina Bhimji, Sophie Calle, William Kentridge and Gillian Wearing. The Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of one of the world’s most vibrant art quarters.

About Delfina Foundation

Founded in 2007, Delfina Foundation is dedicated to facilitating artistic exchange and developing creative practice through residencies, partnerships and public programming, from exhibitions to performances. Its interrelated residency and public programmes offer opportunitiesfor artists, curators and thinkers to incubate and produce new ideas for local and global audiences.

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