» Archive for 30 July 2008
“观念的笔记”把后现代画家的困扰当作前提：是一种没有总体的意图与法则可以依赖的虚空。画册的前言里面提出，目前的流行画派丰富而不断地被消耗掉，引起 “绘画概念极其单一，反映社会，或者通过反映内心状态来反映社会”。 此展览试图呈现当代艺术的自觉性。伊比利亚的小策展组收集的十六位画家能否使观众体验“主动试验性”的绘画线索呢？也许多少会一点吧。
“观念的笔记”前辈画家的代表中，有王音对绘画史本身的研究、王鲁炎的具有平面感而以图像为主的绘画、季大纯的重新分析科学真理和意图意义的绘画、还有尹齐的复杂奶油画，后者在试图改变视觉和意识上的规则。年轻的画家相对来说多一些，像龚剑的非审美的、飞溅着白色点点的画面、王光乐最新水磨石的尝试、李威的悬念性的电影语言、还有刘韡的电脑设计过的 “生产线” 大画面、王亚强的自学绘画手法，都达到了新鲜和挑战人眼球的效果；参与的人数众多，也使展览当中的想法充满丰富性，给每个人带来一次惊喜。
偶尔在现场也会碰到策展人所批评的“潮流绘画”的虚饰 （像符号的复制或者反映出影像文化），但是 “观念的笔记”的整体方向是往新鲜的艺术试验上走，一方面提供了有学术价值 的观赏，同时在年纪上相差二十多年的中国画家的绘画试验里，也找到了一 条线索。
文 / 安静 /Lee Ambrozy
此展览评论在artforum.com.cn发表 The review here is of the “Notes of Conception: a local narrative of Chinese contemporary painting” exhibition at 798’s Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, on show till August 15, 2008. Haven’t had time to translate it into English––sorry English-speaking readers!
Director: Yang Rui
Producer: Zhuang Tiantian
Length/Year: 91 min/2006
“The other side of the Mountain” is a review by Alice Wang, current translator for artforum.com.cn, contributor to theBeijinger, and film and documentary buff.
This observational film by Yang Rui and produced by Zhuang Tiantian focuses on the lives of three Bimo clergy of the Yi people, one of the ethnic minorities living in the Da Liangshan Mountains of China. In this remote landscape, festivals and religious traditions remain an integral part of Yi life, and the Bimo clergy conduct rituals that bridge the worlds between mortals and ghosts. The old ways seem safe here, shrouded in the mist, but assimilation and modernity are eroding the traditional ways.
International Museum of Women Announces Call for Submissions
Submit your work to the Women, Power and Politics global online exhibition
Submit your original artwork, essays, film shorts, poetry, photography and cartoons to be considered for the Women, Power and Politics online exhibition at I.M.O.W. Until December 31, 2008, Women, Power and Politics focuses on a provocative new topic each month and uses community-submitted work to start a dialogue on the issues. Work can be submitted directly online in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Chinese language assistance with the submissions process will be available until September — email email@example.com with any questions. To learn more about the submissions topics and how to submit your work, visit www.imow.org/submissions. To start exploring Women, Power and Politics, go to www.imow.org/wpp.
Every woman counts! Tell them your story. I.M.O.W. is very interested in hearing stories from China, submissions are encouraged! Please forward to the women in your life!
When we sleep deeply, everything becomes history.
Coal Spell, inspired by this old five Yuan RMB note, is an account of the rise and fall of Fuxin, an old industrial coal city located in northeastern China. As a result of the experiences and nostalgia of his upbringing, the artist began to question both History and Power:
In a mysterious dark city, yellow sand storms wreak havoc. Several huge smokestacks located in the middle of the city pierce the sky, emitting black fumes, which blanket the sun. The sound of doctrine rings out daily in order to banish various curiosities about this world. The city is a tremendous prison where history is boxed up like a monster – a brutal, fierce monster. One particular day, people were forcing the screaming Soviet Union excavator to clumsily open the skin of the land, gradually closing the heart of the city…even the changes of history can be closely watched.
People’s money, pattern is just the illustration…
WATCH “Coal Spell” on art and artist.com
Platform China Contemporary Art Institute presented Sun Xun’s new work, Coal Spell, in their 798 Project Space. During a two month period, Sun Xun created a hand drawn, site-specific animation film. The resulting exhibition featured the new film “Coal Spell” together with Sun’s installation made specifically for the film. Coal Spell is Sun Xun’s second site-specific animation project. His first site-specific work entitled “Lie” was part of the Yellow Box Exhibition at the 2006 Shanghai Biennale. Sun’s third project will take place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles from June to July, 2008.
The following lament for the 798 arts district is featured on artforum.com.cn under angle.
The games are approaching, and China’s most infamous arts district is being scrubbed and shined to make way for tourist traffic. The reality of the immense changes that have occurred here over the past few years now lies below a new layer of concrete and the Italian leather sandals of al fresco diners. This maturation has been rapid and thorough, but for all the media gushing over 798, few have taken time to ponder the effects of her changes, or in what way they have been ministered by her new nanny, the “Beijing 798 Art District Office of Construction Management.”
The “798 Management” office is an office representing the interests of the Beijing Municipal and Chaoyang District governments and the Seven Stars Group. Seven Stars is not a constellation or group of celestial bodies, it is the electronics conglomerate heir to the original factories, and the property management group that now rents to the galleries in 798, comprised of factories 700, 706, 718, 797, 798, and 707. Six factories. Where is the seventh? Maybe the last star is you, or harmony, or maybe it stands for “art zone” with Chinese characteristics.
Established in 2001, in part to deal with factories vacated since being rendered irrelevant by changing electronics technology, Seven Stars was happy to rent to people such as Sui Jianguo the sculptor, Hong Huang the publisher, Liu Suola the composer and many others who began moving in around 2001. Then, the entire area seemed distant and dilapidated, although its former glory was quietly echoed in East German designed Bauhaus style factories. In the mid-1950s this area was the highly celebrated “Factory 718” complex, the national standard in integrated and efficient production, and a model for similar factory complexes across the nation. It is said that Factory 718 was a household name, reaching heights of production amidst swells of socialist ideological hype that encouraged the embrace of industry.
Reverberating with its past fame, 718 has been reincarnated as 798, and sits atop tourist “top ten” lists. One of the government’s “development zones” of the new cultural variety, 798 is prided as a model of official tolerance for artistic expression, as evidence of the booming “cultural industries” and touted as a “healthy” tourist location spotlighting “contemporary culture” where visitors can snap photos of themselves amidst steaming, peeling pipes or shiny fiberglass sculptures, embodying the contrast of a proud industrial heritage with a booming contemporary art scene. 798 has emerged as a media-friendly archetype of the contradictions that define modernizing China. Or does it define something else? (more…)
In these heady days leading to the Summer Games, many “foreign friends” in China and would be visitors are perplexed be the sudden difficulties in obtaining and extending their visas. Indeed, China’s crackdown and imitation of the US Government’s visa policies seems an illogical strategy for a nation on the verge of her debutante ball, even more so when inflation seems almost solely propelled by lusty visions of foreign visitors paying 40 RMB (~5.50 USD) for a cup of swill-piss coffee. Nevertheless, there are rules and conventions in every culture and nation, and with China so eager to enforce hers, international friends should bone up on a more “native” approach to red tape and visa paperwork. Herein lies the soundest advice I can give for anyone who approaches one of the low, laminate countertops that shield the forces of the Chinese bureaucracy: you need yin for yang, something to slake the thirst of the inexplicable administrative madness going on behind those counters. You’ve accepted the mission, now your secret weapon? MY CLEAR BAG.
“Business. School. Home.
Collection Information. Communication.
Shopping. Driving. Playing. Presentation.”
Helpful suggestions for its use are printed right on top of this “simple” document folder. Your lucky amulet comes in five pastel colors, each one bearing a white printed grid, the above “poem” outlining its function, and that discriminating title, those three conspicuous words: MY CLEAR BAG.
If life were a video game, MY CLEAR BAG would be the weapon that you buy with accumulated coins, or the talisman you steal from some dead guy. But, thankfully, this is China, a peaceful nation with some special socialist tendencies, and there are plenty for all! In a nation that loves homogeneity and inconspicuous behavior as much as China, there is no better tool to help you blend in. You can––and you should––buy one from your corner store.
Traditional Chinese philosophy stresses balance: bringing down the heat, restoring harmony. My Clear Bag is your antidote, your leverage for confronting an incomprehensible and opaque Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Imagine the brutalist monoliths that are Beijing’s governmentbuildings, imaging what is tucked behind those endless rows of black windows; the bureaus and the leaders that survey them, the constantly changing rules they make and break. Imagine now My Clear Bag––it is in your hand as you approach one of the many service counters that breech the Ministry with the comparably prostrate public––you use it to approach the human face of this bureaucracy. Your face is forgettable, and probably not as symmetrically pleasing as the My Clear Bag you carry. Place it unassumingly on the desk and revel in its purpose and its methodology: it is transparent, and compact, its function is obvious, self-explanatory, intuitive. It stands in diametric opposition to all of the nastiness inside. Your officer picks it up for inspection. Nestled inside your Clear Bag, nothing can be lost, nothing will fall through the cracks.
Simply the sight of My Clear Bag unconsciously brings peace to whomever you encounter behind the desk, just as a cool cucumber soothes the fires of a spicy hot pot, it calms the soul of this officer. In contrast to their life “within the machine”, the rules of My Clear Bag are simple and easy to follow, and they do not change seasonally with campaigns nor with national holidays. Protocol is obvious and perfunctory. Of course, Everyone’s Clear Bag is exactly the same, with no exceptions. Unlike that Audi A6 with mandatory leather-seats and a quilted tissue box on the dashboard that may or may not be parked outside of the building, there is no “VIP” Clear Bag. No, there is one bag for all, at one price, and with limited variations––that Clear Bag of mine is a tested, true classic model of Marxist socialism.
Of course, the contents My Clear Bag can vary. At more “official” times such as border crossings their contents should include your passport, little stacks of I.D. photos paper-clipped together and––as any experienced My Clear Bag operator should know––photocopies of each document. These contents are stacked in ascending or descending order of importance, depending on your mission. Larger assignments (applying for a Chinese university) would do well to include a typed table of contents.
Approaching any counter á la My Clear Bag is to say in a nonverbal language that you are a law-abiding, trustworthy candidate. It becomes the missing semiotic link between your inevitable success and your visa officer. By toting My Clear Bag, you are demonstrating highly prized values of “healthy thought”: you revere simplicity, you are well organized and respectful of your opportunity to inquire about a little visa from the big bureaucracy. You don’t fly ahead of that flock, and don’t worry, no one’s going to sacrifice you to scare the monkeys. You also know the virtues of being economical, because you bought My Clear Bag for 1.5RMB. This bag can truly change your life.
Li Zhanyang – ‘Rent’ – Rent Collection Yard
Galerie Urs Meile | 26 April – 24 August, 2008
Li Zhanyang’s solo show is a worthy visit this season, he has modeled his collection of sculptures on an “instructional” collective artwork that was commissioned during the Cultural Revolution. Instead of featuring the landlords, rapists, suffering and poor of the original, substitutes high-profile characters from the world of Chinese contemporary art. His commentary, his drole means of representing these folk, and his skillful adaption of the original is intelligent and timely. Due to the historical and social nature of this work, it is best appreciated through accompanying texts, below are excerpts from the gallery press release and a translation of Ai Weiwei’s response to the artist.
text: Nataline Colonnello (the following is extracted from the gallery press release)
‘Rent’ – Rent Collection Yard (2007) is the title of the largest and most complex sculptural installation Li Zhanyang (born 1969, Jilin Province, China) has ever created. Taking eighteen months of production after nearly a decade of conceptual incubation, Li Zhanyang’s ‘Rent’ – Rent Collection Yard is a humorous and subjective look at the Chinese contemporary art scene. It is informed by the artist’s personal experience. Characters, both local and international, are brought to life. The 34 life-size coloured fiberglass figures of this installation are modeled after the likeness of various people familiar to the artist – among them international celebrities as well as some only known in Chinese contemporary art circles. They include Chinese and Western artists, curators, collectors, gallery owners, gallery assistants, and art students. The gathered subjects were chosen according to their public or professional roles. Displayed on a real stage they were designed to showcase each figure in a striking a pose – dramatic or absurd, some of them with imbuing mordant satire. Following six conceptual themes (Paying Rent, Foot Washing, Raping, Oppressing, Dying a Martyr, and History Observed), the sculptures are spread throughout three exhibition spaces of Galerie Urs Meile in Beijing. The congregation seemingly gathered or juxtaposed is part of a broader and fabricated narrative revealing latent conflicts and power relations – the dirt underneath the high-gloss surface of the art world. The artist places his fiberglass alter ego amidst the other characters, representing himself by gazing intently into the darkness of the spectators. And among the spectators, Li Zhanyang places two exceptional figures in the front row: Joseph Beuys and Mao Zedong (in History Observed). Beuys, one of the most influential figures in the modern contemporary art scene, is expounding on the dynamic and chaotic interplay in front of them with a wild and passionate gesture beside the icon and father figure of revolutionary China.
The work is a contemporary transposition of the story of landlord Liu Wencai. During the revolutionary era, Liu Wencai was a victim of political muckraking and depicted as a brutal exploiter of the peasants.
The following artist introduction will be included in the forthcoming book, Looking for Me, a collection of writings and works representing the best of China’s young artists.
Yan Cong’s artistic career began in boredom and loneliness, a student wasting away in his dorm room, which he surmounted by drawing comics and illustrations and posting them online for a growing group of virtual friends. Thus the imaginary landscapes he retreats into and characters that inhabit them are a true blend of his psychology and quaint nostalgia for childhood, or perhaps his humble home in the countryside. His adopted penname, yancong, is the Chinese for “chimney.”
Yan Cong works in an eclectic mix of elementary materials: ballpoint pen, newspaper collage, low-tech digital illustration, even needle and thread. His choice of mediums reflects the low-tech modesty and longing for an uncomplicated world that color his personal world. In drawings and comics on paper of various sizes and quality, he invokes a lonely world of folkloric creatures, and dreamlike adventures unfold in a narrative voice culled over a lifetime of avid comic reading. Much of the detail, the compositional language and depth in his two-dimensional works was informed by his training as a traditional painter, although, this formal instruction is otherwise invisible. He shares new comics and illustrations online at his blog, Soda Pop Stand, and is a central member of the Green School Design Collective, curating shows and influencing the group aesthetic with his seemingly benign style.
Many of his drawings resemble children’s book illustrations, but tiny nuances betray the skill of their author––eyelashes, the twinkle in an eye, or the just-so buttons on a flowery dress. There are evil characters with bullhorns, and good boys with rosy cheeks, pig-headed or dog-faced children are everywhere, and characters tear out their heart (literally) for us; the moon smiles down on it all. His works might be small but his repertoire is growing, each artwork becoming a frame onto Yan Cong’s private mythology. As it once functioned for him, Yan Cong’s work shelters us in a simpler world.