ArtSlant: Black-out Viewing at Center

The Power of Doubt, curated by Hou Hanru

Guangdong Times Museum, Times Rose Garden, Huang Bian Bei Lu, Bai Yun Da Dao, 510440 Guangzhou

17 December, 2011 – 6 February, 2012

Doubt is a concept close to my heart (for all the right – and wrong reasons). It is a state of being separated from fixed ideas, moving into a region where certainties flicker out like an ageing fluorescent strip. I feel this movement into doubt is a primary activity of art: simulation, illusion, questioning, all the while leaving the audience open to new thoughts and ways of thinking. The artist does things and I ask: “Why are they doing this?” Doubt is a region of productivity, of investigation, of crossing boundaries in every category, the genesis of potentiality.

The title of Hou Hanru’s show “The Politics of Doubt” at Times Museum immediately suggested a presentation which might display a sense of instability through the works, but what I ended up seeing was a set of rather stable—albeit interesting—works of photography and video, under a fairly simplistic curatorial premise.

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ArtSlant: The Magic of Art and Science

Pattern—Vortex—Encounter: Museum of the Unknown (Chen Xi, Fang Xian, He Yida, Ji Kun, Jin Wang, Liao Fei, Liu Yiqing, Orange (Liu Yang), Li Wen, Ling (Meng Ling), Lore Vanelsande, Ni Youyu, Qiu Anxiong, Wu Ding, Wang Guangle, Wu Yi, Xu Sheng, Zheng Huan)

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

3 September – 3 October, 2011

A continuing concern amongst artists and art professionals in China is the nature and role of the museum in the art ecosystem. Certainly I have concerns myself – the museum has become something of a catch-all term to cover a disparate set of spaces and activities that sometimes have little to do with a traditional understanding of the term. In my experience, the term “museum” can be a bit of a misleading.

While this is a known failing with the art-institutional landscape in China which deserves deeper attention than I can give in this review, artists, curators and institutions nevertheless are addressing the issue. In recent months, I have visited (and reviewed in some cases) shows that reflect features of museum practice in part to critique it and its development, grappling with the ways in which museums and other art institutions are put into practice. These have included Little Movements (at OCAT, Shenzhen) and The Museum That is Not (at Times Museum, Guangzhou).

Nikita Cai, curator of the latter, included the group Museum of the Unknown, their rambling presentation just one of a series of shows currently on display or planned by this group of artists. Vortex (at Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum as part of CAFAM Biennial: Super-Organism), Encounter (at Times Museum) and Pattern (at Space Station), are proposed to be followed by future shows entitled Disappear, Symmetry and Psychoanalysis of Geography. This set of six shows purport to present a broad-ranging engagement between art and scientific thinking. The group suggest they create investigatory installations into the museum and gallery spaces they occupy, leading to new approaches to practices contained and engendered therein. In reality I feel way they pose their questions leads to some problematic areas of knowledge production.

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ArtSlant: Museum for the Times

A Museum That is Not: ChART Contemporary, HomeShop, Hu Xiangqian, Liu Ding, Museum of American Art in Berlin, Museum of Unknown, Wilfredo Prieto, Wu Jie, Zhang Xiangxi, curated by Nikita Yingqian Cai

Guangdong Times Museum, Times Rose Garden, Huang Bian Bei Lu, Bai Yun Da Dao, 510440 Guangzhou

11 September – 30 October, 2011

The premise put forward by curator Nikita Cai for A Museum That is Not favours a broad engagement with the idea of the museum, the related social and material effects of such an institution, as well as the point at which it becomes other than a museum (or—to view it from the other direction—the point at which the other becomes a museum). What we are presented with is a show that, while somewhat disparate, includes tangential approaches that refresh the overall theme while avoiding proscription of its meanings.

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