» Archive for 26 May 2010
2008 主编《’85美术运动》“The ’85 Movement” （上下卷）[Chinese]
Gao Minglu’s “’85 Movement” gives an inclusive perspective and presents the most moving and utopian, most filled with youthful rebelliousness and broadly germinal movement in contemporary Chinese art history. The book is separated into two volumes, the first, “the avant-garde humanities in the 80s” is an updated version of “A History of Chinese Contemporary Art: 1985-1986,” written by Gao Minglu, Zhou Yan, Shu Qun, Wang Xiaochang, Wang Mingxian, Tong Dian, etc. (published by Shanghai People’s Press, 1991). The second half, “Historical Documents,” is a collection of documents edited by Gao and organized both chronologically and thematically. The two volumes equal more than one thousand pages, with photos and text that mutually enhance each other, the voluminous weight of these books attest to the importance of this history.
Gao Minglu was an active participant and the theoretical bannerman for the ’85 Movement, using “85” as the name of the new wave, it is his intention to echo the May Fourth new culture movement that happened earlier in the century. Therefore, the ’85 Movement is not only a contemporary art movement, but even more is a thought movement, a cultural movement. In Gao’s opinion, the achievements of the ’85 Movement are not the production of a few masters, but is in this trend’s process of development of a lifestyle.
From the perspective of how much time it took to compile this book, it has been twenty years in the making. In between the recollections of eye-witnesses and historians, Gao Minglu’s idealism and consciousness of the common man was consistently there. Idealism endowed historians with a critical perspective, and the consciousness of the common man caused historians to turn their attention from the masters to the “art plebeians.” Gao stresses the “collective” character of the New Wave, and its lack of representative figures. Thus, in the “Historical Documents” section, he preserves such a great amount of artist collectives and movements that might seem insignificant from today’s point of view. However, this is the reality of history. “We don’t regret for the disappearance, not recording the vanished is in fact our shame.” This statement, written by Gao Minglu in the 80s, still affirms his beliefs two decades later.
This publication follows the successive exhibitions of New Wave artists at UCCA and another on the origins of the Stars, but its value is far greater. The art historian Wu Hung has said that this collection of primary sources will eventually lay a foundation for future historians. The artist Xu Bing believes that this book reflects and advocates a kind of complete attitude, an authenticity that Chinese intellectuals are gradually losing. (translation mine)
’85 Art Movement (volume I): The Enlightenment of Chinese Avant-Garde
Gao Minglu, Forward to the Re-edited Version
Gao Minglu, Forward to the First Edition
Introduction: A History of Contemporary Art as A General Historiography
Chapter I: A General Picture of the Art in the New Period (1976-1984
) Chapter II: Confronting with ’85 Avant-Garde – Academician Art and Traditional Art in the 1980s
Chapter III: the Wave of Rationalism
Chapter IV: the Current of Life
Chapter V: Transcendence and Return – New Wave Art after ’85 Avant-Garde
Chapter VI: Architecture of the 1980s Chapter VII: Modern Art and Culture
Chronology of Chinese Contemporary Art: 1977-1989
List of Foreign Names (bilingual)
Gao Minglu: Afterward of the First Edition
Liu Dong: Postscript
’85 Art Movement (volume II): An Anthology of Historical Sources
Gao Minglu, Preface
Chapter I: Non-official Art Societies and Exhibitions after the Cultural Revolution
Chapter II: Summary and Review of ’85 Art Movement
Chapter III: the Wave of Rationalism
Chapter IV: the Current of Life
Chapter V: Conceptual Art, Action and Anti-Art
Chapter VI: Script of TV Documentary “Today’s New Wave Art” (more…)
Barbara Pollack’s book decoding the Chinese art scene “The Wild, Wild East” has caused some controversy with its recent release––I interviewed her for artforum.com.cn, and the following is her responses. A translated version can be found here, and see the Sinopop review of the book here. While she talks below about she located herself in the “scene,” I remain enamored with the Benson & Hedges.
“I think that if [this book] starts some people [in China] thinking about what kind of impression they’re making on the West, that’s great, and if it opens some minds in the West to what’s going on here, that’s great. I don’t think you can come away from this book without realizing that one part of this art world is to be able to operate globally. So I hope that the book helps push things in that direction. At least letting people on both sides know what the playing field is. But I didn’t write this to reform the Chinese system, I don’t know if it needs to change at all, it’s functioning for you here.
The one thing I didn’t want to come off as was a know-it-all-New Yorker. What I did was I cast myself as somebody who thought she knew it all, and then got to China and realized she was going to have to learn things that are done very differently. Being open-minded about those things, sometimes surprised, sometimes shocked, but my reactions are part of the story.
I didn’t want to trash the Chinese art scene, there’s a lot I like about it, and I’m very conscious that I’m writing this for Western readers, many of whom have a totally negative impression, so I’m trying to open their minds too.
First of all, I’ve had [Western] people say to me point blank: they can’t believe there’s any good contemporary art in China because of government control here. They have a negative view of China politically, so they feel the art here could not possibly be interesting, that’s where a lot of those people are coming from.
There’s the “Zhang Xiaogang factor”––there’s the people who saw it and collected it, and they are the biggest promoters of it. And then there are people who saw it and hated it, and decided that they don’t like any Chinese contemporary art because of it. And then there is the Yue Minjun factor…. (more…)
Round two of the Beijing art fairs opened on April 30th, and the buzz in the art scene confirms, ArtBeijing has surpassed CIGE, providing a better show all around. While the unofficial theme at CIGE was “fear,” ArtBeijing has embraced the spirit of Shanzhai!
These skulls by Fang Shengyi 房圣易 seem to be popping up everywhere lately, a pyramid of at least 50 similar skulls was spotted at the young artists portion of 《Reshaping History 改造历史》 that opened last weekend. Each skull is mounted with 3700 Czech-crystal “diamonds” and took ten workers more than 45 days to complete all these crystal-studded metal alloy skulls.
Here they are again, lower mandibles disjointed and floating in a pile of red and white sand. The title of this installation is “Original Sin” 《原罪》. The artist’s statement reads “a lateral reconsideration towards the frantic pace of economic growth in a socialist motherland… The utilizing, plagiarizing and plundering of intellectual property of advanced civilizations by developing countries equals a bald-faced exploitation of developed culture under the premise of identification…”
Let’s embrace brevity: It’s Shanzhai contemporary art!
This random installation could be a commentary on the art fair, perhaps we could interpret it as the “shanzhai fair within a fair.” (more…)