15 February 2011 by sinopop

Don’t Hang Your Faith on the Wall

In June last year, Long March mounted a solo exhibition for MadeIn Co., integral to which was a bit of media trickery. Its been a long time, but I thought it worth to write about here. The show was an interesting ruse best appreciated from within the local art machine.

The press release went out to press folk and mailing lists around the world, its photograph included what looked like a mud statue of Neanderthals mimicking the soviet realist frieze statues that sit outside the Mao mausoleum. It was photographed in a generic art space, with white, lofty ceilings. The image leads you to believe that there will be similarly shocking works, making similarly straightforward statements, on display.      (Press release below)
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When you walk into the hall, however, instead of epic sculptures, large photographic print images line the wall. The sculpture that expected, is missing, save of its “reproduced” image on the wall.

There are roughly three groups of images, the first look like digital paintings, in a frenetic aesthetic style similar to MadeIn’s fabric collages. A second type creates a double illusion in which classical Western sculptures appear to be sinking into an unstable ground, their “marble” appearance appear almost fleshy by the way their genitals contour to the floor. The third type shows improbable freestanding sculptures, “photographed” in generic, white spaces, and whose believability and existence seems to exist in a grey zone somewhere between the other two.  The classical sculptures hint at the cultural mutability of fine arts traditions, the digital paintings invoke the “cheapness” and easily reproducibility of digitized images in a globalized anonymity. The trick with the images is, they are photographs of what purports to be an acrylic painting. (Effects not visible via digital photos.)

mi-10-010.jpg《团结化是一个减损的过程多于增益的过程,“忠诚信徒”永远不会觉得完整,永远不会觉得安全。》系列作品4, Solidarity is more a process of loss than a process of gain, “faithful believers” will never feel complete, never feel safe. Series #4, 绘画,布面丙烯,painting, acrylic on canvas, 150*212cm slave

《一只花花绿绿的巨兽——平民。它不知道自己的力量,只知道绝对服从。》作品 2, A colorful beast––civilian. He doesn’t know his own power, he only knows absolute obedience. #2,  装置,大理石, installation, marble, 140*70*50cm。

These sculptures, according to the oral explanation delivered to me by the gallery, and who we assume complicit to the “work,” were all physically realized, photographed, but then destroyed. Not only do we become suspicious of the photographic “evidence”, somewhere between visual and cultural perceptions, one might further question reality, a theme of Xu Zhen’s work prominent since he cut off the top of Mt. Everest (sorry, Mt. Qomolangma) in 2005.
These images raise interesting questions on the simulacra, authenticity, national stereotypes, and more. I’m sorry that the images here cannot fully capture the meaning of the works, or their environment. Hopefully this short synopsis offers something.

Please note, all image captions, images, press release, are taken from press materials from the exhibition. A few of the image English translations are my own.
barber《诗是生活的表现,或则说得更好一点,诗就是生活本身。还不仅此,在诗里生活比在现实本身里还显得更是生活。》Poetry is the expression of life, or better put, life is poetry itself. Not only this, living in poetry seems better than reality. 装置,黑色大理石、旋转灯、早餐, installation, black marble, barber shop poles, sunny-side up eggs, 300*500*300cm。

democracy《民主是我们的目标,但国家必须保持稳定》Democracy is our goal, but the country must remain stable,  装置,钢制弹簧、花岗岩,installation, spring steel & granite, 1000*500*500cm

mass《理论与实际越是矛盾的群众运动,就越是热衷把自己的信仰加诸别人。》In mass exercise, the greater the conflict between theory and reality, the stronger its eagerness to impose beliefs on others, 装置, 蜡、军帽,installation, wax & military caps, 300*800*300cm

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15 February 2011 at 3:05 AM |

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