Over the past few years many smaller Chinese cities have begun to cultivating contemporary art scenes as a way of building a “global cities” (Sassen 2001). Ürümchi, the capital city of the northwest province of Xinjiang, is no exception. In 2009 a group of largely Han artists from the city received support from the Xinjiang Cultural Ministry, local city governments, and teaching institutions to transform empty government office buildings into an art space called Seven City Blocks (七坊街). Over the following years they built the space into a collective of dozens of artist studios and a large two-story museum space that in 2014 became the Xinjiang Contemporary Art Museum. Although, like many global cities, the population of the city is fractured by class and ethnic divides, Uyghur artists have also found limited forms of artistic success in other ways. Often they find commercial success in advertising companies, working for provincial television stations and as commercial interior decorators in the southern part of the city. This economic change as well as the rise of new media and technological innovation has allowed art, film and photography to circulate in ways that was previously impossible. In this section of the site we present emerging forms of art, film, photography, literature and poetry and discuss some of the political implications of these new practices.
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