» Archive for 7 December 2008
Long March Space, Beijing
1 - 30 November
If I had a drunk uncle, Xu Zhen would be him – he would show up on Thanksgiving in sweatpants and a tie, and would embarrass the family with tasteless jokes about Senator Clinton or President-elect Obama. However, Xu is only 31, and already a certified Chinese art star, with his provocative and manipulative videos, installations and photographs.
An exhibition title appropriated from Adidas’s advertising campaign tricks us into believing that Xu Zhen, Shanghai’s ‘merry prankster’ of the arts, was going to play with consumer tendencies (the exhibition’s Chinese name is The First Possibility). But the show, a series of large and detailed installations, has its own lifeless and one-dimensional marketing, setting up boring binaries like limits vs. boundaries, living in reality vs. living under observation, and historical facts vs. media-filtered facts.
The first work we see in the Long March Space is titled Decoration. It’s a model of a space station suspended about two meters from the ground in a darkened space; we are unable to see inside its shell, but one bright light shines from its singular window out onto a painted globe. In the next room we see observational video of two “cosmonauts” apparently inside the space pod; we assume this by the prominent digital clock on the wall, and the same globe is visible on screen just outside their window.
The set in the next room rivals any Universal Studios backlot, but pushes Xu Zhen’s repertoire of politically incorrect, controversial work into the realm of poor taste. (more…)