ArtSlant: Place as Performance

Three Openings of Xiangqian Art Museum: Hu Xiangqian solo show

Taikang Space, Red No.1–B2, Caochangdi, Cuigezhuang, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing, China

17 December, 2011 – 17 February, 2012

A projection on one side of the room shows the artist Hu Xiangqian, dressed smartly in white shirt and black trousers, stepping in front of a lone microphone on the raised metal walkway in front of the Guangzhou Times Museum. In the process he inaugurates the opening of the Xiangqian Art Museum, which had previously “opened” as part of the Asia Triennial Manchester 2011 in the UK, and in its first outing, as part of Taikang Space’s excellent series of solo shows under the umbrella title of 51m2 (referring to the area of the space for each of the 16 shows in the series).

In each case, though, this “museum” is not a physical structure, or at least not a building: the institution of Xiangqian Art Museum is embodied by Hu’s own body, in which the artist describes himself as the sole employee. In each of the three instances of the Art Museum on display in Taikang Space’s upstairs room, Hu demonstrates the real and fictional objects in his Museum’s “collection.” This is done through his own movements and simultaneous verbal descriptions. In this way he performs the museum, taking on its duty of public display through the contortions of his body.

Continue reading

艺术界LEAP Magazine: Cai Guo-Qiang—Saraab

MATHAF Arab Museum of Modern Art, near Education City, Doha, Qatar

5 December, 2011 – 26 May, 2012

Cai Guo-Qiang’s work straddles a sometimes-uncomfortable line between spectacle and meaning. Saraab, the overall title of his blockbuster solo show at MATHAF in Doha, and its “explosion event” in the desert nearby, translates from the Arabic as “mirage” in a wholly appropriate allusion – officially to the subject matter of the works, but perhaps unintentionally to the effect of the heavy symbolism that Cai employs.

The artist had been invited by MATHAF to create a new series of seven large-scale installations. Alongside these a representative selection of older works provided an overview of the artist’s trajectory. The depth of material available in the show created a unique opportunity to fully appreciate the artist’s work, demonstrating in many ways that it has remained remarkably consistent over the years.

Continue reading

ArtSlant: Beyond Shopping Poetic

Developing Phantom group show, curated by Dang Dan (WAZA, Hexie Baroque, Zheng Yunhan, Jiang Zhi)

PIN Gallery, 798 Art District, No.2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

6 January – 3 March, 2012

My disappointment with this show stems from the fact that it genuinely appears to be an interesting presentation, focusing on a well-selected group of mid-scale installations. The curator has avoided the temptation to simply place them together within the gallery space, creating appropriate, custom-built spaces that the works inhabit nicely. But it is unfortunate to have to say that Developing Phantom falls down on a conceptual level in its lack of coherent critical engagement with the artists and works, and on a pragmatic level with its confusing organisation and presentation.

Continue reading