« Chen Tong’s Librer�a Borges is the crossroads of the southern avant-garde. In addition to his role as critic and curator, Chen, 37, publishes the magazine Vision 21 and edits art theory books. “Guangzhou is small enough for people to meet one another,” Chen says, noting that official restrictions are looser than in the north. “The politics here isn’t real-just for show. The police never come to my openings. They mostly deal with traffic problems.” He adds that, paradoxically, local insularity makes it easier for the avant-garde artists, most of whom come from elsewhere. The Cantonese who predominate in both Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta have their own distinct language and ethnic consciousness, although they still consider themselves Han Chinese. “They don’t really like foreigners,” says Chen, who comes from Hunan, the province immediately to the north of the delta. “They don’t even like other Chinese. That gives us some space. We’re not suffocating under a microscope !
like in Beijing.”