“Curated By Song Dong” Ma Qiusha: Address & Wang Shang: Sleuthing
UCCA Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, 798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100015
16 July – 8 September, 2011
It feels like curation has become somewhat undisciplined. “Good” curation, in my experience, is distinguished by a thoughtful and productive presentation and response to the works selected. I realise this plays down the more academic aspects related to working with collections in, say, a museum context. But in the environment in China where there is little institutional support for serious curation (at least of contemporary art), you take what you can get.
However, that rather negative preamble is by way of introducing a show that ultimately restores my faith in the possibilities of curation. I think we are fortunate to see the artist Song Dong put in the position of curator as part of UCCA’s “Curated by…” series, running concurrently with his own solo show next door. His choice to present Ma Qiusha and Wang Shang, with whom he has worked since they were very young, shows the results of a long-term commitment, and the opportunity for an extended understanding of their collective work based on this relationship.
Tracing the Milky Way: Chen Zhen, Huang Yong Ping, Shen Yuan, Wang Du, Yan Pei-Ming, Yang Jiechang
Tang Contemporary, Gate No.2, 798 Art District, Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
26 March – 14 May, 2011
It may seem contrary, but I can’t ignore how new or renovated art spaces affect the way works are shown and received, as well as how they represent a gallery’s plans and priorities. Any conclusions drawn remain highly speculative, but in the physical remains left behind by the development process, the choices made and priorities focused upon as manifest in the physical spaces, we can perhaps gain some insight into the nature of a gallery.
Thai gallery Tang Contemporary originally opened their Beijing space in 2006 and have occupied their site with a series of large-scale installations and commissions. One in particular which stands out for me was Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Freedom in 2009, which seemed to push the space to an extreme, saturating the structure in gallons of water from its serpentine fire-hose. Although not necessarily a consequence of this piece, at the end of 2010 Tang made the traumatic leap of gutting the space and starting again from scratch.