The MyPeople Project features four artists each from Shanghai, London and Amsterdam, working in collaboration.

LOS ANGELES —There was once a time when location meant everything in the art world. You either move to New York or you let yourself be marginalized, far away from the art elite. Then the internet happened, as did globalization, and artists can now come from any number of places. There’s something to said, though, for in-person connections, and while the internet is allowing us to network with art circles around the world, collaboration is another story. Most successful collaborations I’m familiar with first began with an in-person meeting.

Lu Yang’s “Zombie Music Box – Underwater Frog Leg Ballet”, one of the works on display. All images courtesy MyPeople Project.

I recently heard about MyPeople Project, an attempt to help connect artists around the world with each other. Their goal is simple yet ambitious:

The project suggests a new approach to develop a network between artists from Europe and Asia, allowing an intercultural dialogue. The process will result in exhibitions taking place in London, Amsterdam and Shanghai. The project intends to create a more organic discussion and an opportunity for the exchange of views and perceptions between artists, as well as an online and offline artist/audience dialogue.

Leveraging artist networks, the group assembled four artists each in the three cities, matching them based on talent and creative interests. The artists are then given a basic theme and have to develop it based on the city in which they operate. In this case, they recently put together an exhibition in Shanghai’s Xindanwei, a new media and coworking space. It’s the first of many.

I spoke with founder Ronnie Gillam about the durational nature of the collaboration, which spans multiple cities over the year:

“We think that a common barrier between artists which keeps them from getting to know each other is the competitive nature of the usual events they attend, in which they have to impress others in a very short time.”

From Ellen Nolan’s “Safety in Numbers” series.

Ultimately, the projects will be a surprise, known only to the artists before opening night.

“This is the reason why we avoid from doing the type of events in which there is a topic and everyone are suppose to share their view on it, when having to think of a quick, clever and impressive answer that will be better than others’ there is very little space to really getting to know each other,” Gillam says.

The first production of MyPeople Project opens at Shanghai’s V Art Center this Friday.

AX Mina (aka An Xiao Mina) is an author, artist and futures thinker who follows her curiosity. She co-produces Five and Nine, a podcast about magic, work and economic justice.