» Archive for 30 April 2008
Hao! A recommended installation this month in Beijing:
A Gust of Wind
A Zhang Peili Solo Exhibition
Place: Boers-Li Gallery (formerly UniversalStudios-beijing)
Exhibition Dates: 2008.04.26 - 2008.05.24
read the press release here.
Naughty Kids collects the voices of a rising new generation of Chinese artists in one bulky, unique concept album. Don’t mistake this younger group of artists as deviants; they have already distinguished themselves as the most promising creative force for China’s step into the global arena. But in the midst of China’s ever-changing contemporary art scene these “kids” are adapting some curious themes: see their characteristic cartoon elements manifest in various forms, from enormous, almost 3-D canvases, to pithy notebook doodles. Naughty Kids looks into each artist’s personal nature with pop culture oriented surveys, revealing how much closer this “Post ’70s,” or “consumer generation” of artists is to Western consciousness then we had previously guessed. The design is the creation of Naughty Kid artists’ contemporary, classmate and award-winning designer, Liu Zhizhi. Its edgy concept design is teasing – definitely rascally – and promises to make each copy a smudgy, unique original.
I know, this book is old, but it is still a classic in its time, it pinpoints Post 70s/80s artists before they were even a concept. Looking forward to the next such title from curator Fang Fang: “Looking for Me”
Shifting Sites: Cultural Desire and the Museum
A one-day conference in HK will discuss how museum spaces are culturally rendered in Asia, and the future of these spaces in light of new art practices and market influences. Looks interesting, concurrent with the inaugural ART HK 08. Sponsored by the AAA. Admission is free, register on their website, Shifting Sites.
Ouyang Chun’s Infinity Column installed in 798’s Star Gallery was beginning to make more of a stink than a statement. The smell of the rotting pig head, a fish, molding melon, and the accumulated piss and shit of the caged bird were more than I could handle at my visit last week. The concept was: items were collected from the public over the month of March, for the April exhibition they were “speared” on a rod that reached as infinitely high as engineering would let it. Have a look at the nature of donated items!
follow the column inside. . . more photos below (more…)
Below is a short piece inspired by the Chinese Literature Translation workshop that I attended last March. The whole week was filled with meaty content on translation and its woes, but this dialogue was a highlight. Jiang Rong’s bestseller Wolf Totem, is recently available in an English edition. The book doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. Thanks to Tom Saunders for the photograph.
A few weeks back, Penguin Publishing Group and the Arts Council England hosted the first ever Sino-British Literary Translation Workshop on a hazy bamboo mountainside in the historic resort town of Moganshan, just a few hours north of Shanghai. Translators of various levels and backgrounds convened to discuss the finer points of textual and contextual understanding when moving texts across languages and cultures. The workshop was timed to coincide with the English release of Chinese bestseller and Mainland publishing anomaly Wolf Totem (Lang Tuteng), translated by the uncontested king of modern Chinese literature in translation, Howard Goldblatt. The basic premise of the workshop was that the responsibility of the translator is not simply to convert text from one language to another, but that in the act of translation, he or she becomes a cultural authority in his or her own right.
Wolf Totem, rumored to be one of the most widely circulated books in China since Mao’s “Little Red Book,” is a non-traditional, allegorical novel that examines the character of the wolf through not only narrative, but collected parables and folklore. It grew out of the experiences of the author, Jiang Rong, a pensive, conservative-looking man who sports Jiang Zemin-esque glasses. His time in Inner Mongolia inspired the book, 11 years laboring on a farm during the Cultural Revolution. He eventually finished Wolf Totem after six years of writing; it is purported to be a muffled criticism of the complacency of the Han people, ripe with nationalist undertones. According to publishing insiders, the book sold more than 4 million copies in its legal copyrighted edition since its 2004 release, which likely amounts to less than 40% of the book’s total sales on the mainland (including pirated editions).
the piece continues here . . .
Joy Art: April 19-May 30
Curatorial text / Liu Ding
For many years Sui Jianguo has used his art practice to contemplate and expand upon sculptural concepts and forms. He also employs related media, video, installation and performance to reflect and discuss the changing patterns in our social lives and the forces and mechanisms that shape our social patterns. In Joy Art’s second project “Revealing Traces” Sui Jianguo unfolds his research through the extracting and presentation of molding and the enlargement process of a small clay model; he also examines the social phenomenon that is the transformation of individual will into the public will.
Generally, in the sculpture creation process, the sculptor first makes a complete small-scale model, workers then enlarge it to the artist’s specified dimensions, and lastly it is molded into an artwork in a different material. In the “Revealed Fragments” project, Sui Jianguo personally created small-scale clay models of three different forms, he then intentionally covered their surfaces with his fingerprints. According to the general procedures for modeling and enlargement of these small sculptural models, Sui used workers to first mold his clay models into silica gel molds, then from these molds they were molded into plaster; following this, a laser mapped out the appearance of the plaster model and marked coordinate locations on a grid. This “virtual grid” of the plaster model was then enlarged more than 10 times according to an actual and comprehensive positioning system; these circular coordinates were blown up according to a “circular enlargement” process. An iron frame and wooden supports were constructed according to the requirements dictated by the new dimensions; then wooden rings were built around the wooden supports. Accordingly, the sculpture’s clay frame was built upon these wooden rings, thus completing the basic mold for the enlarged model. The workers then completed the model according to the now enlarged circular coordinates, accurately representing the handprints of the artist’s original model. Ultimately, the artist’s clay sculpture is perfectly enlarged ten times its original size; it becomes an enormous sculpture with monumental quality.
Wang Di and Mao-era architecture
text / Yin Jinan
Architecture always employs its historical presence to construct our landscapes, and the “objectivity” of architecture is not always reflected in its mere functionality. As a historical relic itself, it already is the target of every observer’s objectivity; even if the person is imaginative, architecture remains a realistic departure point for the machinations of just such a person.
I often think: what would it be like were a historian or a sociologist to take up a camera and photograph architecture as a historical entity? Undoubtedly, the camera is a more “objective” tool then other recording methods, and this is precisely what historians and sociologists strive for––though none of them are capable.
Wang Di has photographed some of Beijing’s structures. These buildings have their own history; they were all built in Mao’s era, and the spirit and culture of Mao Zedong’s era are embodied within them. From them we garner a visual sense of people in the Mao-era, their class concepts and their historical relation to these buildings. Wang Di’s motivation to photograph these buildings is derived from his personal experiences growing up as well as a special fondness for them. Through his photographic process he has gradually merged into the world of sociological methodology and perspective with these historic buildings that bear the weight of Mao-era cultural ideology with their physical form, and they are dying off–– (more…)
text / Ar Cheng
Let me describe for readers a brain process: we see an image, our retinae take the image to the thalamus, and the thalamus converts it into code (as a computer would turn the same image into binary code of ones and zeros), it is then saved in the hippocampus (which is shaped like a seahorse, whose scientific name is Hippocampus). At the same time the Amygdala (which is shaped like an almond, whose scientific name is Amygdalus) saves correlated emotional memories such as fear or joy. Thus when we see a wolf, for example, we feel fear. If the Amygdala of a certain person is removed or damaged, when such a person sees the same wolf their brain will not produce fear, they would only know that there was a wolf. The normal person would run, but this person would not. We ordinarily call people whose emotional response is different than ours a “fool.”
Our brains are linked to the images we see, and many memories are correspondingly stored, smells, tactile sensations, sound and temperature for example.
Under normal circumstances, our judgment of images and emotions is linked; the issue is really, what emotions are associated with which images. (more…)
Monster Island (Cary Loren) produced this Double LP over the course of 5 years, finally, last January its completion was confirmed with a performance and listening party in Detroit’s UFO Factory. The legend driving the album is a complex tale of lost civilizations, psychic bridges and cross-continental travel.
The listening party last January included a shadow puppet show with puppets by Detroit artist Tom Cary, see more of his works and images of the show here.
Performances by Aliccia Berg (Slumber Party), Lee Ambrozy, Noelle Christine, Bill Brovald (Larval), Matthew Smith (guitar, organ, bass, Outrageous Cherry, THTX), Robert Waller (synth, Pere Ubu), H.H. Ma Meenakshi Devi (Indian Saint and classical Hindi singer), Anneke Auer (psychic voice), Johnny Evans (sax, Howling Diablos), Len Bukowski (bass clarinet, Northwoods Improvisers), Tim Barnes (percussionist, Quakebasket), Mattin (avant-noise, Sakadda), words & music: Cary Loren (guitar, samples, mix, Destroy All Monsters), mastered by Warn Defever and recorded in Detroit at Koko studios.
Firm Idealism Community
In Beijing, have a set of one’s own houses, it is the most untiring ideals of people. The ones that enabled more persons to live in got up in the good house, is ideals all the time of the others too. Go to in the city, mutually encourage between ideal and ideal.
Read more at Xinhua: “… a terror group worse than Bin Laden”
if you thought the iPhone revolutionized the way you use a phone, have a look at the “myPhone” . . .
that’s right, here’s a commercial for the “real myPhone.” Note that instead of “swiping” your finger across the screen, all you need do is shake it.
Or, try instead the Ai Feng 爱丰, which sounds like “iPhone” in Chinese.
“If you can’t find apple’s iPhone, why not try the double sim-card AiFeng－its more intense!”
No.A-8 Caochangdi,(P.O.box No.71 Dashanzi),Chao Yang District｜March 8–April 6
It may be the relative lack of installation work in China that makes Qiu Xiaofei’s current exhibition seem especially satisfying. Or perhaps one can read Xiaofei’s work as a clever twist on the medium of painting, undoubtedly the most popular one among contemporary Chinese artists. In “House of Recollected Fragments,” he remakes objects as his own by painting them, as in his earlier work, but this time viewers are dwarfed by his vision. Xiaofei’s third exhibition in as many years is essentially an extension of previous themes—objects of nostalgia, childhood memories, and dreams are transformed into thickly painted parodies of themselves––but it has a new maturity and importance. His choice of subjects has also progressed slightly, from the representation of static, dispassionate objects to imaginary scenes charged with the artist’s emotion and sentiments.
The exhibition is dominated by a flat, brilliant white “ice rink” that has been shredded into bloodstained tracks––cut by the sharp blades of the skates that are pinned to the wall. Arranged around this circular rink are smaller, loosely related works. In one, a meat grinder spills piles of grim, raw product on a table, the realization of a recurring childhood dream occasioned by preparations for holiday cooking. In another, a half-burned mosquito coil serves as a symbolic reminder of waiting home alone while both parents were at work; furthering this theme, on an adjacent wall hang two blown-up photos of the artist as a child, laughing. These images are slightly different, reflecting a split personality that many children of the “one-child policy” dealt with. Two enormous stacks of wooden blocks painted with life-size geometric windowpanes, a clock, and Russian-style onion domes dominate the gallery entryway.
The only work that seems out of sync, at least stylistically, is Night at the Museum, 2008, which is perhaps a subversive fantasy of the artist’s adult life: In a startling white environment hang the variety of molded plaster frames found in a traditional museums, each sloshed with black paint. This is the “work” of a dripping, headless, and hulking figure made of the same plaster, an alter ego who has defaced the floor and walls in what can be seen as a commentary on the traditional art machine. The exhibition hints at new, more ambitious directions for this young artist.
“Cynical realism—it’s the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation.” - Aldous Huxley
In Beijing, October 2006 two monumental art world events coincided to the fanfare of endless camera shutters: the opening of the Today Art Museum’s new space in Beijing and within it’s walls, the first Mainland solo exhibition of one of China’s most archetypical contemporary painters and celebrated “cynical realist” Fang Lijun. It was a strange “debut” in his hometown––late by almost 20 years––yet he is one of the most recognizable Mainland Chinese artists in the world.
Fang Lijun’s baldheads on desolate landscapes have become an iconic symbol of contemporary Chinese art, and Fang the commonly accepted as the definitive “cynical realist.” The Cynical Realist school that he so roundly represents and its contemporary, “Political Pop” have become the two most identifiable and uniquely “Chinese” contemporary art movements from the mainland—they are also some of the highest priced works in the international art market today.
Cynical Realism at a Glance
Cynical Realist painting, which emerged in the early 1990s, was a step towards personal expression and away from the collective mindset that prevailed in the Cultural Revolution, it is often linked with the political events of 1989 that left a sour taste in the hearts and psychologies of artists and intellectuals in Beijing, the cultural capital of China. Although Cynical Realist works maintain an ambiguous relationship with society and politics, socio-political themes emerge in form and content; politics are seen from a distance and take no clear pro-con stance on issues. The result is a cold, realistic view of a Chinese society in transition, a “stylized ambivalence” and a form of humor––later coined “grey humor”–– transcending the political realm although its roots clearly lie there. (more…)