The wall text characterizes Chen Shaoxiong and Liu Ding’s “Project Without Space” as an “iteration,” suggesting a serial repetition, one on top of the last, in a process of refinement. Now it has reached its sixth version with this presentation of paintings and videos, what lessons can we draw from these critical installations?
Spread over three rooms, “Project Without Space” takes a number of forms. In one room, two new walls have been constructed, providing settings for two videos and two paintings. One video records the artists in the process of installing the previous “Project Without Space #5” (earlier in 2012 at Magician Space down the road in 798). The video is accelerated and subtitles appear over the image, apparently a record of the artists’ conversations regarding their work and activities (“However you want to paint this one, just go ahead and do it.” “Our intellectual production is our work.”). The other video shows the two artists sitting in a café, evidently engaging in conversation, with a similar series of subtitles. The paintings bring together forms that suggest other painted artworks from (predominantly Western?) art history over the previous century, perhaps the most recognisable being several flat coloured shapes from “The Snail” by Henri Matisse.
Curated by Su Wei. Participating artists: Chen Shaoxiong, Chen Zhou, Li Qi, Li Ran, Liu Ding, Ma Liuming, Xing Danwen, Zhu Ming. At Star Gallery, Beijing
April 13 – May 16, 2013
In this inaugural exhibition for Star Gallery’s new Beijing space, curator Su Wei addresses certain perceived limitations in the discourse surrounding Chinese performance art. Drawing on the work of eight artists, the presentation avoids “formulated mechanisms,” Su writes, to specifically address works “irreducible to any classification within the historical process of aesthetics.” Su proposes that this can partly be accomplished by more fully addressing the original contexts of the performances: “It is impossible to [remove] the work of the artist from its site.”
Curating needs a bit of a shake down in China. The term has become a cliché to describe pretty much any situation in which one can point to a modicum of organisation, and is often characterised as a perfunctory look at the issues raised. Seminars that take a long hard look at the subject, and successfully integrate local and international resources and audiences, are also pretty rare in this context. So, despite the Summer heat in Guangzhou, we couldn’t refuse the invitation of the Guangdong Times Museum to attend their “No Ground Underneath: Curating on the Nexus of Changes” which brought together practitioners from near and far in an extended forum over three days of intensive presentations and discussions.
Nikita Yingqian Cai, curator of the Times Museum, in collaboration with the seemingly ubiquitous independent curator and critic Carol Yinghua Lu, co-curated this event as a prelude to a new series of books on the general subject of curation, to be published by the Museum beginning later this year.
Self-awareness is a key feature of Liu Ding’s work — in many cases incessantly so. When you look at Liu Ding’s work, it is as if it is winking back at you, slyly implicating you in its investigations.
Liu Ding’s work questions the formation of value — with inevitable implications for the systems of art that posit a myth of value as a central conceit in their working processes. A generalized idea of “value” and the way that value comes to be (particularly in the rarefied atmosphere of the art world) is the sine qua non of arbitrage.
At the same time, Liu Ding’s works are full of questions. His works may literally ask a question, but more usually they put forth statements that leave us with our own questions as to the nature, source and purpose of those statements. These statements are literally applied or inscribed onto the objects themselves, or exist through the arrangements and settings presented for our contemplation.1