For the experimental music community in Beijing, each month holds the promise of another MIJI Concert. Organised since 2011 by various members associated with the Sub Jam record label, MIJI Concert is now in its 39th edition. This event has managed to survive in a city that has become less than fertile ground for experimental creative productions over the past few years with the closure of a number of venues that would host such events; MIJI is now one of the few regular events for such practical research into sound and music. Since edition 18 MIJI has found a home at the Meridian Space, located in a small creative cluster behind the National Art Museum of China not far from the Forbidden City in central Beijing. The long, thin, upstairs room in which it takes place is perhaps inhospitable for regular styles of performance, but within an experimental context provides an ideal foil for the artists. The quality of the space helps to work against divisions between performer and audience, so the physical relationship between them is always under negotiation – dependant on things like the equipment being used, the style of performance, and the nerve of the audience members. Last week’s MIJI Concert 39 was a case in point, with four pieces making various uses of the space, setting up different experiences of the performers’ relationship between themselves and with the audience.
Liu Wei rose to prominence in China in the early 2000s with a diverse practice encompassing painting, photography and sculpture, often presented with a touch of humour. His solo show at White Cube focused on recent sculpture and installation pieces that demonstrated the artists professed move away from figuration but which, in the process, seemed to lose some of the agility that characterised the artist’s earlier practice.
Liu presented works from three distinct series that were organised over the two floors of the gallery. Dominating the basement gallery floor stood six geometric sculptures (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, from the ‘Density’ series, 2013) – including a cube, a ball, and other less specific shapes, the larger pieces looming over the visitor. These works used layers of cut books to form their off-white surfaces; the Chinese characters printed on the books’ pages still visible along the cut edges. This paper lent a material softness to the sculptures that contrast with the hard-edged, abstract shapes they formed.
Displaying a long-term commitment to his practice, most visible for the last six years in the ongoing Keywords Project, Guangzhou-based Xu Tan chooses to address both the detail as well as the ‘bigger picture’ of cultural and social change through his works. His current solo show in Guangzhou’s Vitamin Creative Space, titled Questions, Soil and ‘Socio-Botanic,’ shifts the subject matter from language—as demonstrated by Keywords—to issues of the conceptual and legal construction of the social landscape.
“Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again”
Yu Honglei solo exhibition, curated by Aimee Lin @ Magician Space, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
12 July – 8 September, 2013
By Edward Sanderson
(left) “Now,” (right) “Gravity”
(background) “Jian Ge Wen Ling,” (foreground) “Let Me Approach You Again”
(foreground) “It,” (background) “First into the Mist”
(left) “In the midst of the blooming flowers, she smiles.” (right) “Gravity”
Various objects and constructions are dispersed around the first room of “Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again,” Yu Honglei’s solo exhibition at Magician Space. It is assumed that each is intentionally chosen and arranged, and as such suggests that they are imbued with meaning. Yet in Yu’s presentation, while objects and assemblages tempt interpretation, their meanings are left resolutely unclear—never quite fulfilling the viewer’s efforts to read them.
A low barrier perforated with a brickwork pattern is coated in a lumpy, clay-like material with two digital clocks, displaying identical times, inserted in the gaps. On the other side of the room, a similar barrier is laden with the same shapeless material this time supporting a light bulb and fitting. Towards the back wall two sky-blue wooden beams (reportedly from an “ancient building”) stand upright on tripods, with stuffed budgerigars clinging to their surface. A low, black, wooden box stands to one side, with two black porcelain cat figurines perched neatly on top.