Curated by Su Wei. Participating artists: Chen Shaoxiong, Chen Zhou, Li Qi, Li Ran, Liu Ding, Ma Liuming, Xing Danwen, Zhu Ming. At Star Gallery, Beijing
April 13 – May 16, 2013
In this inaugural exhibition for Star Gallery’s new Beijing space, curator Su Wei addresses certain perceived limitations in the discourse surrounding Chinese performance art. Drawing on the work of eight artists, the presentation avoids “formulated mechanisms,” Su writes, to specifically address works “irreducible to any classification within the historical process of aesthetics.” Su proposes that this can partly be accomplished by more fully addressing the original contexts of the performances: “It is impossible to [remove] the work of the artist from its site.”
Over the past few weeks I’ve begun a series of interviews for the “Uncut Talks” sound magazine, a project initiated by the artist Ma Yongfeng of forget art. At this point I thought I would pull together the first three interviews which (coincidentally) have all been with Chinese sound artists and musicians. Future interviews will venture into other creative fields. Ma Yongfeng and the Italian curator and artist Alessandro Rolandi have also added their own interviews to the Uncut Talks site, so please take a moment and check them out, I think there is something for everyone there!
Yan Jun talks about his “Living Room Tour”:
Sheng Jie (gogo) talks about her audio-visual practice:
VAVABOND (Wei Wei) and Li Jianhong talk about improvisation:
Zajia Lab are starting a series of midnight events to get us all out of the normal patterns of experiencing these things (as I understand it). The first was last Saturday night/Sunday morning with an album launch for 冯昊 Feng Hao and 李增辉 Li Zenghui’s project, 核桃室 The Walnut Room.
Yan Jun introducing Miji Concert No.12 at 2kolegas
A good selection of artists played last night at 2kolegas bar, as part of SubJam label’s Miji Concert series. Organised by Yan Jun, the evening began with him playing his electronics and feedback in a trio with Liu Xinyu on electronics and Yan Yulong on violin, performing some harsh noise improvisation.
Yan Jun and co. were followed by Soviet Pop, about whom I had heard good things. They focus on playing a set of analogue synthesizers, and their sound is characteristically softer and more organic than the previous set. While I liked what they were doing, and how they were doing it (very understated, almost aggressively geeky), it bothered me that it was really difficult to get beyond the cliché’d sounds of these instruments, harking back to Forbidden Planet-type tonal music.
Lastly, Tim Blechmann on laptop and Conny Zenk on visuals developed an apparently simple set of gradually building drones. At first I was sceptical, thinking that these endless cycles would be swiftly boring, but an interesting thing happened. Starting very quietly, the musicians seemed to be struggling against the background noise of the bar and a typically talkative audience. Yet as the drones gained in pitch and depth, these extraneous sounds were gradually smothered, leaving the drones to dominate. The visuals had a similar struggle, being projected against the heavily textured brick wall of the venue. This meant that much of the subtlety of the flickering lines being generated was lost, yet after a while watching for the small changes that stood out against the peaks and crevices of the brick became quite fascinating, not completely losing itself against the surface, and complementing the sounds well. In a way quite simple and not particularly original, but—in this setting—effective nonetheless.
Venturing out into the beginnings of an untimely snow-fall last night in Beijing, I made my way over to XP to catch VAVABOND and Li Jianhong play together under the moniker of Mind Fibre.
VAVABOND specialises in very subtle, fizzing staccato stabs of computer-generated electronic sounds, while Li plucks at a guitar and combines its tones with noises from various DIY electro-mechanical objects sitting near him, their combined sounds being variously modulated and distorted. The style of sound produced by these two is a little bit cosmic, from the warbles of VAVABOND’s programming, and the bends and swoops of Li’s notes and tones, the overall effect harking back to early synthesised tonal music without in itself being at all anachronistic. They produced a wonderfully intense effect, each sound feeling highly articulated and organised, and never over-bearing or violent.
ZiZhiQu (Autonomous Regions) (curated by Hou Hanru)
Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou
19 January – 17 March, 2013
As one of the more visible providers of a critique of the centre/periphery model of cultural development in the early 2000’s, a new exhibition by curator Hou Hanru is highly anticipated. ZiZhiQu: Autonomous Regions at the Times Museum in Guangzhou can perhaps be seen to develop this model as it applies to the cultural self-formation of individuals and groups, placing that development in contrast to a globalised institutionalisation of culture. Autonomy, then, moves across all scales in its realisation. ZiZhiQu presents expressions of autonomy at the level of the personal via the body, as well as the extension of personal autonomy into ideology and geography. In the process this show covers imaginary and real sites of the development and expression of this individual and communal state of being. This show’s tread is necessarily light, as the subject of autonomy quickly enters fraught territory in relation to specific realisations of the autonomous body in society, or its geographical presence.
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.