Sound Transmission from Japan to China in the Early 2000s

Yan Jun in conversation with Edward Sanderson, at Nooo Kitty, Osaka

Yan Jun has been involved in the music scene in China since the early ’90s, originally as a poet and a journalist, as well as organizing gigs and events for experimental music and sound. He began organizing these in his hometown of Lanzhou, and later moved to Beijing. He runs Sub Jam, a very important record label in China, releasing all sorts of works by Chinese and international sound artists and musicians. In terms of sound and experimental music in China, Yan is one of the central people. And not just in China, but also internationally: for many years he has been making links between China and the rest of the world. In October he was in Japan with the group he performs with, FEN, which is himself, Yuen Cheewai from Singapore, Ryu Hankil from Korea, and Otomo Yoshihide from Japan. The following interview with Yan Jun took place after a performance by Yan and Tim Olive at the Nooo Kitty space in Osaka on the 17th of October.

Continue reading

a word about compilations

On the occasion of the release of the cassette compilation of experimental music, “There is no music from China” (published simultaneously in China and New Zealand by Zoomin’ Night 燥眠夜 and End of the Alphabet Recordings respectively), I wrote this text expressing why I think the compilation format is so important. Where it occurs the experimental music scene in China is truly vibrant, but doesn’t have many outlets for expression, is under pressure as it often antagonises authority in any number of ways, and so can be difficult to locate and understand for outsiders. So for the artists in China a compilation such as this is really helpful for creating visibility for their activities, which in turn cements their own practices in relation to their peers.

Compilations are great. Where before there was an amorphous set of individuals working away on their respective projects, whose relationship to their peers and their history was far from amounting to the self-understanding of a distinct grouping or a “scene”, along comes a compilation and magically makes concrete those relationships and gives form to those potential arrangements. This works well both for the artists, giving them a sense of identity based on relativity, and also for the audience, who perhaps were unaware such connections existed. And hence a scene is formed. It’s something of an illusion, of course, but serves as a useful public face for those involved.

Continue reading

field recording: framework radio intro

This field recording captures the sound of the fireworks that accompany Spring Festival here in China. The recording was taken one morning as I walked out of the front door of my mother-in-law’s apartment block in the city of Chifeng in Inner Mongolia, a fairly typical third-tier city in China. The recording was used as the introduction to an edition of framework radio, hence the voice over.

ArtSlant: Data as Art

Zhan Rui – The Stock Exchange, Weather and Sex

Boers-Li Gallery, 1-706 Hou Jie, 798 Art District, Jiuxianqiao Lu, 100015 Beijing, China

19 May – 19 June, 2011

A few weeks ago I reviewed Breaking Away, Boers-Li Gallery’s abstraction group show here on ArtSlant. I then travelled a few blocks West within 798 Art District to Space Station to cover XYZ, the solo show by one the participants, Xie Molin. And this time I’m returning to Boers-Li, where another participant, Zhan Rui, has his own solo show in their smaller galleries upstairs. Suffice to say, in Beijing at least, abstraction appears to be popular right now.

Continue reading

ArtSlant: Train of Disruption

XYZ: Xie Molin Solo Exhibition

Space Station, 4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, 798 Art District, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing

23 April – 20 June, 2011

A few weeks ago on this site I reviewed Breaking Away, the abstraction group show at Boers-Li Gallery, and got a bit carried away addressing some of the institutional structures in place. This show, and some other shows that are forthcoming, also seemed to hint at a resurgence of abstraction in Beijing this year. My over enthusiasm for the critique meant that I only superficially addressed the artists in the show. One of the artists that I omitted to mention was Xie Molin, whose works in the Boers-Li show had kicked off some thoughts about abstraction itself. Luckily I’ve had a chance to re-acquaint myself with his luscious machine-made paintings in his concurrent solo show at Space Station.

Continue reading

GeoSlant: forget art’s Guerrilla Living Syndrome

Guerrilla Living Syndrome: A Social Micro-Practice of Alternative Living

forget art, Beijing, China

16 May, 2011 – 16 May, 2012

forget art is a loose artist collective, based in Beijing, and initiated in 2009 by Chinese artist Ma Yongfeng. They focus on intervention-based work, often with a touch of the absurd, promoting small-scale, subtle disturbances in the fabric of society, which they describe as their “social micro-practice.”

As they work by and large outside of recognised gallery spaces, the creation and value of social space has become an important material for forget art. This keys into the long history of nomadism, with particular attention to the local experience in China and its mass population of migrant workers, as well as the international development of the itinerant white-collar worker. So in forget art’s “situations” ambivalence towards the fixed location comes through, feeding into their approach to production and presentation, and their feeling that sometimes it is necessary to “forget” in order to proceed. As Ma quips “That’s also why we don’t need any space – because we “forget art,” why do we need any space to do this?!”

Continue reading