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.
Pékin Fine Arts, No.241 Cao Chang Di Village, Cui Ge Zhuang, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
22 Oct, 2011 – 8 Jan, 2012
Blue is the dominant colour of Zhang Dali’s new series of photograms and cyanotypes, framing the shadowed forms cast upon them. These large-scale photographic impressions on cloth present figures, bicycles and pagodas in their unexposed, white areas, in negative; the surroundings are left in the rich cyan blue, verging on indigo. These “material objects” (as Zhang refers to them) leave their marks as absence and adjust our received impressions of them, reversing the shadow’s fleeting aspect to permanently fix and memorialise them.
The traces left behind by image-making processes and their subsequent re-presentation or removal has been a recurring subject matter for Zhang. From his early graffiti works that traced the profile of his head onto buildings (particularly those in the process of demolition); to the Second History series of counterposed photographs documenting the changes wrought on images by history through which ideology is reflected. In each case the trace of an object and the meaning of that trace is susceptible to erasure and interpretation, becoming a new reality that further impinges on the world we ourselves inhabit.
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.
Little Movements – Self Practice in Contemporary Art, curated by Carol Yinghua Lu and Liu Ding, assistant curator Su Wei
OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT) of the He Xiangning Art Museum, Enping Road, Overseas Chinese Town, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China.
10 September – 10 November, 2011
In my review last April of You Are Not a Gadget at Pékin Fine Arts, I talked about the curator Carol Yinghua Lu’s self-involvement in the curatorial process. This is a feature of her activities that keys into the ongoing question of the role of the curator in relation to the artwork, artist and institution. Her partner, artist Liu Ding, is known for his critical approach to practices of presentation and value formation through the production and exhibition of art. So it seems wholly appropriate for them to work together on the current show at Shenzhen’s OCAT, a show they have been researching over the past year with curator Su Wei, and which aims to present a broad vision of “Little Movements” that are perhaps difficult to quantify and possibly destined to marginalisation under the art system.
You Are Not a Gadget: Chen Shaoxiong, Huang Ran, Jin Shan, Leng Wen, Lu Zhengyuan, Yan Xing, Zhuang Hui & Dan’er. Curated by Carol Yinghua Lu
Pékin Fine Arts, Caochangdi, Beijing, China
15 January – 18 April, 2011
Curated group shows reveal the hand of the curator in a public display of their thinking and working process: in some cases they may take a back seat; in others be extremely visible. Curator Carol Yinghua Lu has consistently investigated the latter approach, and the group show You Are Not a Gadget curated by her at Pékin Fine Arts, serves as a point at which to analyse the results.