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.”
Wang Yuyang’s set of disparate sculptural constructions that make up “Liner,” at Tang Contemporary, betray their design by computer in their fantastically ornate, mathematical shapes, spurs and swoops of material. They seem to express an aesthetic typically seen in the virtual shapes produced by CAD software. In the gallery they become slightly unreal or impractical forms: large cubes of marble are juxtaposed with jointed lengths of the same material, inserted with lengths of gleaming aluminium sheets; jagged wooden elements iterate and displace, their interlockings and overlappings forming a complex circular construction on the wall; a saddle-like construction is made up of multiple curved layers of hundreds of different materials proceeding in waves around the shape. A series of paintings accompany these sculptures, which seem to have been formulated by the same process, but when reduced to the flat surface of the canvas these works lose the “presence” in space that the sculptures effectively express.
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:
VAVABOND playing as part of the Pangbianr Improv Meeting at School Bar
Some new samples taken from last night’s Pangbianr Improv Meeting, a regular Wednesday night event organised by Josh Feola and Lulu Chow from Pangbianr. I only stayed for the first two soloists, Li Jianhong and VAVABOND, both of whom I have written about on this blog before, usually playing together, and whose sounds I really like. Last night it was very evident that Li Jianhong’s playing is very expertly done, a lot of control in the sounds he is manipulating out of his guitar and effects pedals. Despite being VERY LOUD, Li’s sounds carried you along in their tow, making for a series of sequences which had some feeling of progression. VAVABOND’s set, on the other hand, was far more difficult to lose oneself in. Her staccato blasts of sound, endlessly forced you to PAY ATTENTION, with no respite into a consistency which might have allowed you to sit back and relax. Previous events have seen Li and VAVABOND play together (under the names “Vagus Nerve” or “Mind Fibre”), and it’s interesting to see the similarities and disparities in their styles when they are taken separately, as here. For all their differences of technique and instrument, it was possible last night to hear how they share a sonic aesthetic, in their disjunctive ways of arranging their sounds. Good stuff.
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.
Interviewer: Edward Sanderson Interviewee: Liang Yuanwei
At first glance, “Pomegranate,” Liang Yuanwei’s solo show which opened recently at Beijing Commune, appears to be a rather radical departure from this artist’s previous solo show in the same space in 2010 (“Golden Notes”). “Golden Notes” amassed a group of paintings of a similar format – canvases with floral patterns picked out from an overall gradation of coloured paint. “Pomegranate,” however, seems to present a rather more experimental proposition, and rationalisation of Liang’s practice. In this new show she seems to be dealing directly with the mutable nature of colour: as it is affected by the nature of materials over time, the nature of individual perception, and the nature of mechanical (or otherwise) reproduction. However, both shows, “Pomegranate” and “Golden Notes,” have strong parallels, and can be seen to represent different aspects of a consistent line of research into the appearance and effect of colour, as it exists in painting and in the world.
Edward Sanderson (ES): Taking the show “Pomegranate” as a whole, am I right in thinking that you are trying to investigate the vagaries of the reception of colour, and specifically the reception of painted artworks understood as collections of colours?
Liang Yuanwei (LYW): I actually treat the exhibition “Pomegranate” as one singular work of art, and, yes, I consider these factors through it.
The works in this show have come about through a steady process of placement and refinement by He Yida. The final installations project a feeling of extreme intention in the experience of their arrangements.
The process of the work moves from the selection of material, their arrangements in relation to each other, and their positioning with respect to the spaces. Overall there is an emphasis on the works’ relationship with the floor (rather than a hanging relationship with the wall or ceiling), as they spread out along that plane, or rise up from it. The effect is of a sense of flatness in the planes and tenuousness in the upright structures. The elements of the structures are ready-made for other purposes, variously adjusted with painted additions. Each material adjusts the effect of the other materials they are placed in a relationship with: the hardness of the metal bar stands in contrast to the softness of the elastic strip that is wrapped around it; this wrapping conceals and reveals various parts, playing the materials off each other, changing the perception of the materials and their arrangements as they are viewed from different angles.