Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood: Cheng Ran solo show
Galerie Urs Meile, No. 104, Caochangdi Cun, Cui Gezhuang Xiang, Chaoyang District, 100015 Beijing, China
5 November, 2011 – 12 February, 2012
The press release for Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood proposes that this new work is “not primarily a conceptual work.” This text goes on to lay the groundwork for this new three-channel installation – and for what I see as Cheng Ran’s work as a whole: “The artist hopes to reduce the technical influence to a minimum level through the deliberate use of inappropriate editing to demonstrate the formality embraced in symbolism and imagery, thus representing an unknown image-space.”
Although I could quibble over the subjectivity of a phrase such as “inappropriate editing,” and the vagueness of “an unknown image-space,” this distancing of his work from a conceptual reading is a consistent concern for Cheng Ran. In a conversation I had with him in 2010, he was very clear about this: “I never thought that the artwork should have a core meaning. Inspiration and instinct is very important to me in the creation of the work, not a concept. I really don’t consider myself as a conceptual artist at all.”
As problematic as I felt his attitude towards core meaning was at the time—I felt that it amounted to an abrogation of responsibility to the work—I’ve come to regard it as allowing for the possibilities for interpretation to be released from taking a stable form. This has the positive aspect of leaving space for the audience to become involved in the works’ production of meaning.