Various visions (wall text for Facing East group show)

A wall text for a group show of Chinese artists which opened last Tuesday at Ausin Tung Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. Just brief introductions to the various artists involved.

Facing East: Chen Hangfeng, Gao Weigang, Ji Wenyu & Zhu Weibing, Pu Jie, Ren Bo, Wu Daxin, Wu Junyong, You Si, Zhang Bojun.

Ausin Tung Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

24 April – 2 June, 2012

screenshot from Untitled by Ren Bo

Facing East presents the broad range of contemporary art from Chinese artists, covering the continuing presence of China’s deep traditions, the ambiguity of the connections between recent history and daily life, and the place of Chinese society on a precarious balancing point between the influx and outflow of social and culture tides.

To “face East” is essentially an act of looking from “here” to an “other” culture, with both sides often conveniently proscribed as monolithic. The assumptions based on this starting point are such common occurrences that we perhaps don’t give them a second thought. Over the years the theories of Post colonialism have developed the idea of the periphery, away from the hegemonic “West,” but equally away from an assumption of a coherent “East.”

China is but one part of this “East” and within China there are many developments, fast and slow, which afford a myriad of images and perspectives. Like any society, China is in continual development, and—if we are paying attention—continually subverts our assumptions about it.

In Facing East we see works by recent generations of artists, living out their own internalised and internationalised histories and cultures in vivid and vibrant ways, taking on or discarding influences as openly as they reflect or reject their own.

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The way to see linear video and new media

“Scene • Area • Emotion” New Video Media Art Exhibition, curated by Wu Qiuyan, at WenJin Art Center

Out in the University District of North-West of Beijing, near the South Gate of Tsinghua University, the WenJin Art Center has just opened inside the WenJin Hotel. Yesterday it was hosting a day of video and new media work curated by Wu Qiuyan, a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

This was a great opportunity to have, if not the cream then at least a representative collection, of the last few years’ linear work on video presented. Splitting the works into the sections titled “scene,” “area,” and “emotion” presented the audience a broad range of artists, work and techniques, from the computer generated works of Miao Xiaochun and Feng Mengbo; through narrative (including a particularly subtle yet quietly sensationalist piece by Ma Qiusha, I still don’t now what I think about that…); semi/pseudo-documentary from Gao Yuan etc,; performance (for me the weakest set of works, but that’s my personal preferences). All of this was presented in a fairly tightly curated selection, which—although long—really felt like a comprehensive but concise account of the field in the time available.

Being able to devote this kind of time and attention to all this lovely material was a real luxury which I can’t often don’t give to linear video work (much less to interactive, non-linear work, but it’s usually not such a requirement of that). When I visit a gallery there is never enough time to view the whole video as I duck in and out of the screening rooms. So I really appreciate what the curator was doing here, enforcing some kind of participation, it was a real joy to experience.

Artists by section:

Scene: Miao Xiaochun 缪晓春, Feng Mengbo 冯梦波, Bo Hua 卜桦, Zhang Xiaotao 张小涛, Wu Junyong 吴俊勇, Bai Chongmin 白崇民, Ye Dan 叶丹, Wu Weihe 吴玮禾, Gu Zhenzhen 谷真真, Dai Hua 代化, Liu Qianyi 刘茜懿, Xu Ruotao 徐若涛, Chen Hailu 陈海璐.

Area: Liu Xuguang 刘旭光, Chen Zhuo + Huan Keyi 陈卓+黄可一, Tan Ji 谭奇, Wu Qiuyan 吴秋龑, Ding Xin 丁昕, Cheng Jie 盛洁, Wang Gefeng 王歌风, Ma Qiusha 马秋莎, Chen Wei 陈伟.

Emotion: Feng Jiangzhou 丰江舟, Zhang Haitao 张海涛, Chao Fang 沈朝方, Tan Tan 炭叹, Tian Miaozi 田苗子, Song Song 宋松, Wang Tingting 王婷婷, Chen Zhou 陈轴, Pei Li 裴丽, Gao Yuan 高媛, Shi Jingxin 史晶歆, Deng Li 邓黎, Chen Xi 陈曦, Zhang Minjie 张敏捷, Ren Lun 任伦.

In March, the curator Wu Qiuyan will be hosting another event of film and new media, this time at UCCA. More details when I have them.