At a time when her understanding of contemporary art was still limited, Chen was unexpectedly invited to partake in Parabola, a satellite show of the First Chengdu Biennale (2001). On this occasion she created Ellisis (. . . . . .), a performance piece that she documented in film and photographs. The work is based on a Chinese expression that roughly translates as “sweet harm” and refers to all the enticing things that modern society throws at young women. In Ellisis, Chen sits in front of a vanity table placed outdoors among the rubble of an undeveloped site with new buildings, a coal power plant, and factories on the horizon. She is wearing a pretty dress and is admiring herself in the mirror, oblivious to a man throwing pieces of a soft, creamy cake at her until her hair, face, and dress are coated. Her absorption in herself and indifference to her surroundings are a metaphor for the situation that many young Chinese women find themselves in. Unlike older women, Chen’s generation has not lived through revolutions or hard times. Rather, they are seduced by the sweetness of a prosperous society while ignoring the potential emotional harm hidden within.
Sichuan Province experienced the worst earthquake in its history in May 2008. Only three months before the Beijing Olympics were scheduled to open, with China the focus of world attention, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes. The severe sense of loss reverberated with Chen, whose most recent body of work reflects on life in Sichuan after the disaster. Peach Blossom (Tao Hua, 2009), on view for the first time in the United States at the Hammer Museum, was created in the same spirit as the earlier Wanxian video works—with an archival instinct and a lens on the personal, social, and environmental changes shaping people’s lives. In Chen’s words: “We cannot avoid natural disasters—life goes on. I made videos and performed in the areas hit by the earthquake as a commemoration and hope that more people will see how people are living in these areas and help them.”
source: excerpt from text by France Pepper. Continue reading
More of Chen’s work can be seen here
Time and memory weave through Hai Bo’s work, as they have for the last 20 years. For one series, They, he obtained souvenir-photos from family friends and acquaintances taken during the era of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Often these were group portraits of Red Army members posed in rows: No hierarchy of importance was allowed and anonymity was underscored with uniform haircuts and utilitarian clothing. With a distance of 30 years, Hai Bo found and gathered the same individuals to recreate the original souvenir-photos. He posed them in the exact positions. Then he paired the pictures of past and present in diptych form. Today, with the influx of Western influences in China, hairstyles and clothing vary from one person to the next. And, because the subjects are not part of a danwei (work unit), the re-photographed individuals are no longer interchangeable with one another. Rather than members of a group, they are individuals grouped together.
They highlights not only the passing of time, but also the poignant cultural divide between China then—the agrarian-based communist country under Mao Zedong, when the Cultural Revolution swept away the vast legacy of Chinese traditions in the arts and literature—and China today, which is undergoing a rapid expansion, westernization, and industrialization as part of the global market economy.
Still, Hai Bo’s artistic preoccupations are grounded in personal experience. “After moving to Beijing, my hometown took on a new perspective,” he wrote in 2005. “Once I returned to Changchun and met an old acquaintance of my mother on the street. She and her friends used to play with me when I was small, and in my mind they were a group of beautiful young girls. I was shocked by the middle-aged woman in front of me and, without thinking, I exclaimed: ‘How come you have become so old!’ She replied: ‘Look at yourself, have you not grown up as well!’ I suddenly felt the cruelty of time.”
“We Chinese people are struggling in the whirlpool of cynicism with no exception.
This is my understanding of the current times. With frenzied emotions and twisted bodies, we are marching forward with vigorous strides. While people are gaining tremendous amount of self-satisfaction in all respects, what emerges behind is a deeper sense of dissatisfaction and helplessness. All this is because that we always have some in-born things left to be fulfilled while the reality cannot be altered. Therefore we choose to forget. It is just like a person who has stopped the psychological growth in his childhood. The body is mature but he has given up the self-improvement of the mind. He just indulges himself in the pleasure of enjoying life whenever possible.
´Recent reading and realistic experiences make me believe that our history is not only lonely but also destined with no possibility to escape. Looking at these objects, I can’t image what else functions they can bring to us. How useless they are, except for being used to exchange money.
Often I feel that we are always waiting for a convulsion, a convulsion that is not coming from the reality but from verbal words of others. In reality there is only daily life left and we are reminded by other ‘mouths’ that the current reality is so full of surprises that we find no way to fit in.
However all these present in front of you today can’t provide a heart felt convulsion. Because the appearances are so insignificant and the huge reality behind is always so obscure. I am only expecting for a slight disturbances on your heart, just like the dust floating under the light, so that my intentions won’t be realized with nothing.”
excerpt from text by Li Yun. continue reading
His work here
“Oneness and unity only rests in ‘word’, never in the ‘matter’.
I recall a conversation with a neurologist about whether ‘insanity’ exists, and if it did, how. We arrive at an interesting concept, that we were not very interested in the notion of ‘insanity’ itself, in other words, to us, ‘insanity’ in ‘general’ does not exist. ‘Insanity’ only exists in ‘situations’ and ‘conditions’, that is, ‘who’, ‘with whom’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘why not’…? Only in these ‘wholes’, ‘situations’ and ‘assemblages’ does the word ‘insanity’ has a ‘referent’. Here, the significance of ‘insanity’ lies in its ‘eventualness’ and not its ‘essence’. And here, because of the ‘eventual’, ‘insanity’ gained a ‘new’ reference, such that ‘sanity’, ‘fascination,’, ‘dream’, ‘rationality’, etc. can no longer be distinguished. Such ‘attitude of observation’ no longer serve as the ‘judgement’ of words (the essence between insanity and sanity), nor the ‘micro-politics’ of the boundary between objects (insanity against fascination’,), nor the ‘fight’ between words and matter (the essences of insanity versus the eventual in insanity). Instead, it’s the ‘materialisation’ of a concept, a ‘new’ form of ‘clinical symptom’, ‘an unprecedented form of insanity’: who, with whom, when, where, how, why… What we are observing has always been the ‘process of individuation of events under certain circumstances’, not the words, the object, person, nor subject…We call that ‘becoming insane’.
The operation of our brain is not like Freud’s ‘stage’, with various characters, symbols, representations. Instead, its operation resembles the ‘factory’ of Deleuze: machines, mechanisms, installations, settings. It constantly produces desires and becomes a ‘machine of desires’.
To complete this concept, Deleuze divided the Freudian desire: we never long for a ‘matter’, a ‘word’ or any ‘object’. What we yearn for has alway been a ‘state’, a ‘whole’, a ‘collection’. We crave not for ‘daddy mummy-penis nipple’, but for ‘a world of one’s own’. As Proust puts it, ‘I hunger for not only this woman, but also the landscape surrounding her…’, ‘What a woman wants is never only a dress, but the world she can embrace wearing the dress. What a man wants is never only a woman, but the life he can live having that woman.’
It is ‘desire’ that creates a ‘world we must arrive’, rushing us to ‘leave here to go there’, compelling us to ‘become’.”
excerpt from text by Véronic-Ting CHEN. Continue reading
More of Jiang’s work here
“The photography/installation works of 31-year old artist Chen Wei illustrate an intricate imagination fascinated with the eccentric and fanciful pursuits of early science, mathematics, alchemy, philosophers and madmen. Taxidermy, broken mirrors, melted wax, bats, bees, deserted bedrooms, and found objects become the artist’s tableau. With a meticulous attention to details, Chen Wei creates mesmerizing scenes that leave the viewer puzzled by their intricate narrative, fantastic visual impact and odd beauty. In some of the works, the sole human subject resembles an absorbed mad scientist or passionate poet, adding feelings of isolation or estrangement to an already bizarre scene.
Chen Wei’s creative and contemplative process consists of searching for and compiling myriad fragments of personal memories, and incorporating inspiration and objects from childhood or fantasies imagined juxtaposed with realities found in modern China. Most of the works are sketched and created on location in the artist’s studio and then photographed, with the end result being less about the camera process as it is about the assembly of the elaborate elements that are captured in his works. The spirit and style of Chen Wei’s photography works also point towards a new generation of emerging Chinese artists born in the 1980’s who are less focused on political history or obvious social criticisms than personal and intellectual freedoms and the individual’s place in a now modern and developed China. History for them has been obscured by economic and social reforms, and the speed and scale of development is the contemporary China they have witnessed.”
source: m97 Gallery
His place here
“L’œuvre photographique de Caï est cohérente et stylistiquement reconnaissable. Focalisé sur les jeux de lumières et de contrastes proposés par le noir et blanc, l’artiste nous propose des clichés semblant sortir d’un univers fantastique et onirique. Il se passionne pour la zoologie et nous offre un regard différent sur la faune et la flore. L’animal et le paysage sont ainsi transfigurés par le biais d’un appareil à rayons X.
Ses photographies sont révélatrices de l’attachement de l’artiste aux traditions culturelles de son pays. Le noir et blanc offre une palette réduite où la maîtrise des nuances et des subtiles dégradés se révèle dès lors indispensable. Les motifs et compositions de l’œuvre de Caï sont majoritairement des fondements de l’iconographie artistique chinoise : les natures mortes dépouillées, les paysages, les jardins et leurs étangs, l’animal saisi dans une attitude décorative, la narration émanant d’une représentation simple, les petits formats des œuvres (typiques des œuvres anciennes appréciées par les intellectuels de l’époque).”
source:Espace Art 22
So Hing Keung’s photographs are full of humor. He is trying to bridge the Taoist idea of reincarnation and recycle together with the act of ChouDu (超渡), which means aiding the idling or loitering spirits to detach their grudges and ultimately step into the tunnel of reincarnation by an act, or a ritual.
In Mr. So photographs, the non-decomposed garbages found in somewhere were “detached” with the “offerings”, suggesting the non-decomposed garbages also have grudges, if we didn’t dispose them befittingly. Injecting the Taoist idea into the environmental issue is quite clever.
text from Richie Tse’s visual diary
So’s complete “Reincarnation of Matter” here
“This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.”
excerpt from Ai Weiwei’s recent article about Beijing.
“Last year I was helping my mother sort out all the family photographs. Apart from the customary family portraits in front of the same Christmas trees and behind birthday cakes, most of the photos taken of my brother, my sisters and me were during our day trips out at various parks.
I have just a few memories of these pictures being taken. However, I still have such vivid memories of all the parks we used to go to. The penguin bins, the bumper cars, the trains and the ice cream stalls are all so clear in my mind, little snippets of memories that make up my childhood. Sadly, nearly all of these parks have long since disappeared, forever living only as memories.
This project explores similar recreational spaces found in China. In 1958, at the beginning of “The Great Leap Forward”, when private ownership was banned, many existing parks were renovated and new parks were built all across China for the people. Many were renamed People’s Park. Over the years, they became main focal points of the cities, where families had their outings and couples met. Children’s amusement parks and zoos were often built within these parks to provide entertainment for the local kids.
China is changing at a staggering pace. The “economic miracle” means that the Chinese are enjoying a much more affluent lifestyle. Shopping and internet have replaced bumper cars and Ferris wheels. As China continues to “progress” and embrace capitalism; many of these parks, a fundamental part of Communist China, have become dilapidated. However, many workers are still employed by the government to maintain these parks, and they remain open for the people.
Millions of older Chinese have grown up with these parks and have memories of time spent in them. Just like the parks, it is quite likely that personal memories of the parks are slowly fading away with time. Like the family photos I have, the photographs in this series act as a record of memories that may soon disappear entirely.”
More of Kurt’s work here
“Time is in fact the secret protagonist in these photographs. Every picture shows its effects and relativity: It eats away at aged houses soon to be replaced by modern construction sites already looming in the background; it presents its manifestations in TV-sets and refrigerators alongside traditional furniture and cooking accessories; it is even directly captured in the clocks that Huang likes to place prominently in his staged arrangements. The images demonstrate that progress takes as much as it gives. To Huang’s mind, the positive effects should not be overlooked. He points out that life has become safer and easier in the last 30 years. The expressions of the families portrayed are indeed mostly content, they are proud of what they have gained, little as it may seem from a Western point of view. But troubled smiles can be noted too, as in the faces of the family in the resettlement programme in Beijing, waiting to be moved to their new home so their old one can be demolished.”
Full article here
More of their work here
“No one ever really gets over learning about death. Steve Aishman’s latest body of work, “Death and Candy”, explores the associations we all have with death. Like remembering the sweet taste of the bubble gum that was in your mouth the first time you saw a deer on the side of the road. Most people in contemporary urban cities feel removed from death, but everyone has a specific and personal relationship to death, even if we don’t face it every day. We all remember facing frog dissection in high school biology, but to some it was a game while to others, it was a ritual of death. And everyone has their own personal hierarchy of death. We mourn the death of certain animals like dogs and cats that are held high on the hierarchy of life, but not other, lower animals. Aishman’s latest work is placed at the edge of these associations, allowing the viewer to bring their own fear and hesitation to images.”
More of Steve’s work here
To see more of Zhang’s work click here
Source: Goedhius Gallery