ArtSlant: Moving and Still

Quote out of Context: Solo Exhibition of Yang Fudong (curated by Gu Zheng)

OCT Suhe Creek Shanghai, 1016 Bei Suzhou Lu, near Wen’an Lu, Zhabei District, Shanghai

30 September, 2012 – 3 January, 2013

Yang Fudong’s solo show in Shanghai shifts the balance of his work away from the video installations onto his photographs, in the process proving the intimate connections but also the disparities between his moving and still images.

The collection of prints that form the bulk of this exhibition include still shots from Yang Fudong’s films as well as his stand-alone photographs from across his whole career. Yang’s photographic work has always been a counterpart to his films, in that it also concentrates on the cinematic image, presenting scenes with a certain level of stylisation removing the subjects from “nature” and into the staged shot.

Yang’s work has also often played with the boundaries between the still image and the moving scene, setting up juxtapositions between a film which looks like a set-piece—maintaining a stillness within the frame that the subjects sustain even in their movement (the Seven Intellectuals series of films being archetypal of this)—and the still image which appears to be drawn from a larger narrative, held in suspension but always appearing to refer to the event within a larger narrative. The meaningful arrangements and glances of the protagonists in the photographic works Don’t worry, it will be better… (2000) and Ms. Huang at M last night (2006) record the events in their lives without really settling on any particular meaning or interpretation, leaving the audience in a state of uncertainty regarding the actual events being presented and the storyline that the individual photographs in the series depict.

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ArtSlant: UCCA Blows Up

Zhan Wang: My Personal Universe

UCCA Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, 798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015

26 November, 2011 – 25 February, 2012

In what might be read as a change in direction for Zhan Wang, the new large-scale installation at UCCA broadens his works’ outlook from the establishment of monuments to the creation of the universe as creative material. In the process the artist addresses some big questions about our place in the universe, but ultimately manages to lose his sympathetic connection with the human body.

His long-running Artificial Rock series of scholars’ rocks recreated in stainless steel now dot the world, playing with the role of the monumental in public space. Critic Huang Du sees them as existing between tradition and modernity, and these contemporary versions of the traditional stones literally and symbolically reflect the appearance of whatever is around them in their polished forms. But this trope has now become ubiquitous, almost a cliché, so how does the artist progress?

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Ou Ning: digital technology and political society

Dan Edwards: I noticed in a lot of the footage in the film [Ou Ning’s Meishi St (2006)], Zhang [Jinli] is filming the police, but the police have cameras too.

Ou Ning: Yeah, it’s very interesting. You can say that digital technology has had a great impact on Chinese political society. You can see at the end of the film during the demolition process, there are so many cameras on the scene. That means that there are some cameras from the police station, some from our team, some from NGO organisations. The digital technology has brought some opportunity to the people to document history by themselves. This is a great change in China. Before that, history only had one version, by the Chinese Communist Party, but now with digital technology history has different versions. History has a Zhang Jinli version, a Security Bureau version… there’s a lot of different versions, not just one version. That is a great progress in the political situation in China.

Taken from CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Ou Ning by Dan Edwards

The way to see linear video and new media

“Scene • Area • Emotion” New Video Media Art Exhibition, curated by Wu Qiuyan, at WenJin Art Center

Out in the University District of North-West of Beijing, near the South Gate of Tsinghua University, the WenJin Art Center has just opened inside the WenJin Hotel. Yesterday it was hosting a day of video and new media work curated by Wu Qiuyan, a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

This was a great opportunity to have, if not the cream then at least a representative collection, of the last few years’ linear work on video presented. Splitting the works into the sections titled “scene,” “area,” and “emotion” presented the audience a broad range of artists, work and techniques, from the computer generated works of Miao Xiaochun and Feng Mengbo; through narrative (including a particularly subtle yet quietly sensationalist piece by Ma Qiusha, I still don’t now what I think about that…); semi/pseudo-documentary from Gao Yuan etc,; performance (for me the weakest set of works, but that’s my personal preferences). All of this was presented in a fairly tightly curated selection, which—although long—really felt like a comprehensive but concise account of the field in the time available.

Being able to devote this kind of time and attention to all this lovely material was a real luxury which I can’t often don’t give to linear video work (much less to interactive, non-linear work, but it’s usually not such a requirement of that). When I visit a gallery there is never enough time to view the whole video as I duck in and out of the screening rooms. So I really appreciate what the curator was doing here, enforcing some kind of participation, it was a real joy to experience.

Artists by section:

Scene: Miao Xiaochun 缪晓春, Feng Mengbo 冯梦波, Bo Hua 卜桦, Zhang Xiaotao 张小涛, Wu Junyong 吴俊勇, Bai Chongmin 白崇民, Ye Dan 叶丹, Wu Weihe 吴玮禾, Gu Zhenzhen 谷真真, Dai Hua 代化, Liu Qianyi 刘茜懿, Xu Ruotao 徐若涛, Chen Hailu 陈海璐.

Area: Liu Xuguang 刘旭光, Chen Zhuo + Huan Keyi 陈卓+黄可一, Tan Ji 谭奇, Wu Qiuyan 吴秋龑, Ding Xin 丁昕, Cheng Jie 盛洁, Wang Gefeng 王歌风, Ma Qiusha 马秋莎, Chen Wei 陈伟.

Emotion: Feng Jiangzhou 丰江舟, Zhang Haitao 张海涛, Chao Fang 沈朝方, Tan Tan 炭叹, Tian Miaozi 田苗子, Song Song 宋松, Wang Tingting 王婷婷, Chen Zhou 陈轴, Pei Li 裴丽, Gao Yuan 高媛, Shi Jingxin 史晶歆, Deng Li 邓黎, Chen Xi 陈曦, Zhang Minjie 张敏捷, Ren Lun 任伦.

In March, the curator Wu Qiuyan will be hosting another event of film and new media, this time at UCCA. More details when I have them.

Patrick Keiller: forthcoming talk at tate Modern

Sunday-week (22 July) is a bit of a Patrick Keiller-fest at the tate Modern*.

Two of Keiller’s films are being shown that afternoon, “London” at 1pm and “Robinson in Space” at 3pm. I have both these on DVD so I won’t bother going to see them, but I would heartily recommend them to everyone.

The DVD cover for Patrick Keiller

The DVD cover

Then at 6pm the man himself is presenting a lecture about his work.

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