“…but distraction often uncovers a surprising array of thoughts and feelings, epiphanies and meanings. Distraction may act as a productive model for recognizing all that surrounds the primary event of sound—to suddenly hear what is usually out of earshot. It allows or nurtures the ability for one to appreciate the sounding environment in all its dimensional complexity. Distraction may in the end function as means for undoing the lines of scripted space, loosening our sense for performing within a given structure, and according to certain expectations; to exceed or to fall short of the assumed goal. To be distracted is potentially to be more human.”
What A Form – A Reportage: Wu Shanzhuan & Inga Svala Thórsdóttir
Shenzhen OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Building F2, Enping Road, OCT, Nanshan District, Shenzhen
21 May – 21 July, 2013
How far do we pursue the artists’ conceptions in their work, following the lead they provide, making an assumption that the work wishes to communicate with its audience? If the work proves too difficult to relate to, or reticent in its engagement with the audience, where do we draw the line past which we are unwilling to go in our investigation of the work?
At OCAT in Shenzhen, Wu Shanzhuan and Inga Svala Thorsdottir present two rooms holding large-scale, but simple in form, installations. These are accompanied by a series of 9 drawings on A4 sheets of gridded paper showing the progressive development of the forms used in the installations. These works follow on from previous presentations of the artists’ personal theory of forms, in this case focusing on a composite form which they call “Little Fat Flesh,” which is a combination of multiple arcs of circles, forming a unique shape, somewhere between a circle and a square.
A Wall on the Wall, A Floor on the Floor: Wang Wei solo show
Magician Space, 798 Art District
13 September – 31 October, 2012
The two pieces by artist Wang Wei currently on show at Magician Space address two aspects of constructed space—the wall and the floor—in one succinct installation. As the title makes clear, the pieces are literally a wall and a floor, but their structure, placement, and relationship to each other, and their existence within the gallery space, mark them out as out of place. This gives a suggestion, backed up by the text for the exhibition, that these pieces are from other places, reproduced here by the artist and working to create a representational power through the elements that they are made up of.
Liu Wei solo show
Long March Space, 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
1 September – 7 October, 2012
Long March Space present a strong body of new works by Liu Wei, which seem to progressively build upon and develop various aspects of this artist’s works. The results suggest monumentality in their occupation of space while retaining an uncertainty in their inability to be defined and interpreted. This opacity of the pieces is apparently mirrored by the reticence of the artist to elaborate on them too specifically. This is aside from some general statements made by him and his gallery to accompany this show, which seem questionable in the context of the work.
Liu Wei is lauded as an important artist in the Chinese artworld, and to an extent deserves that accolade. He has developed various patterns for his artwork, which he has committed to and has honed over time. Liu Wei produces work that seems intelligent and thought through, providing a serious basis on which the artworld can place a certain amount of trust that—unlike many artists in China—he will not undermine that solid base with some random change of direction.
Urban Play: Site-Specific Public Art Exhibition, curated by Tang Zehui
Landgent Center, No.20 East Middle 3rd Ring Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
17 November – 25 December, 2011
The many forms of site-specificity have a long history and can be the most complex of contexts for art. This idea of a productive connection with a setting, and by implication the users of that setting, is an attractive option for artists trying to boost their degree of “relevance.” However, the public realm outside of galleries is the critical realm par excellence – works existing in it are forced into competition with all sorts of other, “natural” activities in the spaces, and away from the focus afforded by more sympathetic, privileged spaces.
Often one of the stated aims of the work is to engage with the “everyday.” But the prosaic nature of these situations pricks at an artworks’ status, pointing up assumptions that may or may not coalesce with the world into which it is thrust. And, for me, this is when it gets interesting.
The group show Urban Play sees eleven artists and artist groups hosted by the Landgent Center, a large retail and office development south of Beijing’s Central Business District. This project, curated by Tang Zehui, has seen the artists on-site for the last few months developing a series of site-specific works in the public spaces.
Crop Circle & Doughnuts: Chen Xinpeng solo show
C5Art, Building F, 5 Xi Wu Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, 100027 Beijing, China
10 September – 9 October, 2011
Artist Chen Xinpeng describes his work as the creation of “small innovations.” The works in Chen’s solo show at C5 Gallery include his early photo and video works through to his latest experiments with blow up structures and game play, giving some clues as to what these innovations might be. But all the while the show displays the artist’s self-deprecating humour and his reticence towards overstating the meaning and significance of these “innovations.”
Propaganda Pavilion – Wang Wei solo show
Boers-Li Gallery, 1-706 Hou Jie, 798 Art District, No.2 Yuan, Jiuxianqiao Lu, Beijing 100015, China
11 August – 11 September, 2011
For what is obviously such a large and weighty intervention, the mirrored surfaces of Wang Wei’s Propaganda Pavilion create an almost insubstantial structure as it cuts diagonally across Boers-Li’s upstairs gallery, disrupting the visitors’ procession and views through the spaces. The Pavilion is a reconstruction of a common form of display structure, with suggestions of Socialist architecture in its original forms. In this case the artist has taken an example from Beijing Zoo, where it holds information panels and imagery related to the animals around it. As presented by the artist however, completely cocooned in mirrored glass, it facets and disrupts, diaphanous in its physicality and difficult to pin down.