The Meeting Room is a project hosted within Beijing’s Arrow Factory space, and organised by artists Rania Ho, one of the founders of that space, and Elaine Ho (no relation), founder of the HomeShop, a small creative community sited a few streets away. With this new project, the concerns of the two artists previously expressed through their work on their particular institutions, have come together to form a very interesting and socially productive use of the space – converting it into bookable space for meetings, which over the last month has come to naturally reflect the major and minor concerns of the participants in the meetings.
Both the Arrow Factory and HomeShop tend to be lumped together under the rubric of “the alternative” within the Chinese art world, but have somewhat different concerns and ways of working. I have written about each institution before on ArtSlant.com, but to summarise (and drastically generalise as they are in fact quite complex entities): Arrow Factory is a response to commercial art spaces, taking aspects of the gallery format and usurping their functions, in one way by closing the space off to access; HomeShop is a host community for a number of artists and creatives. Both institutions share a methodology by geographically and conceptually distancing themselves from the art districts of Beijing, and in part confront issues with their own role in their local, non-art communities.
In a sense the Arrow Factory space is still closed off, in that The Meeting Room has converted it into a bookable space for meetings, but this aspect of open access to the use of the space means the boundaries have been made publically and socially somewhat permeable. Whereas before the installations in Arrow Factory were designed to be viewed through the glass doors but not entered, these meetings allow for a placement in the space of the members of the groups, while the meetings themselves are then objectified and made viewable to passers-by by virtue of this same glazed façade.
Arrow Factory, 38 Jianchang Hutong, Beijing, 100007 China
8 September – 24 October, 2012
Peeking through the glazed and systematically inaccessible storefront of the Arrow Factory space (inaccessibility being a usual feature of this small non-profit space’s presentations), a scene reminiscent of a storage space or garage is visible. In amongst the detritus that litters the space—the construction tools, ladders, paint tins, sheets of wood, and bags of unidentifiable materials—a series of television monitors sit on chairs or boxes, and make up the deliberately make-shift presentation of artist Fang Lu’s four short stop-motion videos.
Pékin Fine Arts, No.241 Cao Chang Di Village, Cui Ge Zhuang, Chaoyang District, Beijing
3 Sept – 16 Oct, 2011
Chasing Sites is a relatively sedate presentation for artist Weng Wei, focusing on her ink paintings on rectangles of paper and cutouts affixed to clearly delimited sections of the gallery walls. These new works and their installation in Pékin Fine Arts have calmed the spontaneity of her earlier appearances, and this aspect of spontaneity—instigated in part by the precarious conditions under which she was then working—she now treats with some ambivalence. This show has become a critique of those conditions, with the new works as close readings of past installations, rationalisations of the things which she looked for from those venues but which she feels were lacking.
He An’s new installation at the store-front space Arrow Factory, is the first in a series of shows in Beijing for the Chinese artist: Tang Contemporary and Magician Space hosting shows opening this week in the 798 Art District. The installation at Arrow Factory continues the artist’s concern with lighting systems and sees a working streetlight poking through the glass of the gallery’s frontage. Below the light a small switch invites you to turn the light on and off. Behind the glass, inside the inaccessible gallery, the streetlight is broken up into short sections to fit into the confined space and snakes across the floor before disappearing into the back wall on which a black, schematic painting of rings and linking lines has been applied.
In reality this is only a third of the installation, there being another two parts nearby which the painting seems to direct the audience to. “Some 500 meters away” a shop’s lights have also been connected to system, and in another, undisclosed location another light is to be found. All these instances of lights have their respective switches, forming some kind of symbiotic lighting system that extends the reach of each flick of the switches.