Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the opening ceremony for Beijing No 55 High School. The students were starting back after their long Chinese Spring Festival break ready to face the music for the next semester.
December 3rd was a busy Saturday afternoon at Da Yuntang art Museum in Wangjing. The Kaimushi (opening ceremony) was presented by TV Director Li Yemo. This project was organised by the Beijing Women Artists Association, sponsored by Yi Qi Network and curated by Huang Qian.
It was an honour to meet many highly regarded artists who have been at the helm of Beijing art and art academia for many decades.
He Yun Lan (left) worked as art editor and professor of fine arts , appraiser of National Art exhibitions and is currently the Director of Chinese Artists Association. The curator for the exhibition Huang Qian is standing in the centre and on her right side is the accomplished Pan Ying , head of the Beijing Women Artists Association, an artist well known for her gongbi technique.
Huang Qian commented that the exhibition is a bold attempt to explore the fusion of Chinese and Western Cultures, with an annual exhibition highlighting a range of artworks promoting cultural exchange with the female artists.
This scene was raised by more than a few visitors to the exhibition….. the change of guards at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall marching in ceremonial uniform past an exhibition dealing with sexual violence during times of war .
In the background is Song Xin’s “Adam and Eve Updated” a collage of historical images relating to the issues surrounding comfort women.
The exhibition in Taipei was the fourth rendition (previously shown in New York, Beijing and Hangzhou) with the project evolving and growing with each destination.
The Taipei local curator Leon Tsai introduced local artists and collaborated with international curator Fion Gunn for the project.
The Painted Thread – Curated by Fion Gunn and Liu Pengsheng.
The Painted Thread exhibition by three artists Fion Gunn, Gulistan and Niamh Cunningham opened on September 25th 2016 at Joy Pavillion, 9 Jinhui rd CBD, Beijing.
The exhibition was installed to give the viewer unexpected movement and direction throughout the spaces whilst exploring cultural threads of memory and travel. There were seating arrangements for the viewer to sit and relax with different viewpoints around the exhibition area.
The Art of Travel
“Journeys are the midwives of thought,” said Alain de Botton in ‘The Art of Travel’. Perhaps this explains why so many artists, often restless, yearning souls, have worn tracks across the globe, seeking new wonders, new experiences, new visual languages.
Sometimes their travels are an escape from a more limited version of themselves, or from a stifling culture (think of hundreds of artists arriving hopefully in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century, pilgrims seeking the elusive ‘centre’.) Sometimes they are diasporic journeys. Sometimes an artist embarks upon a series of journeys through a willingness to seize the day, to embrace new opportunities as they present themselves. Whatever form an artist’s journey takes, it’s not tourism. A thoughtful, reflective immersion in new places, different cultures and languages, embracing the richness of visual experiences: the inevitable result is a new way of seeing and interpreting the world, and, ultimately, a change in the artist herself.
Irish artist Niamh Cunningham has lived in many places undergoing a state of flux and change: South Africa just before Mandela became president, Hong Kong during and after reunification, and Dubai, where she saw a hypermodern city rising from the sands. A year in Prague – a city and nation in transition from one kind of political and cultural identity to another – was followed by a move to China, where she has lived and worked since 2011. Beijing, some might say, is the ultimate transitional, liminal place: a city undergoing constant, convulsive change as the grey-walled hutongs are overwritten by steel and glass skyscrapers and new ring-roads push the city ever further into the countryside.
Curated by Philip Tinari and Guo Xi
John Gerrard’s first exhibition in China featured Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada), Farm (Pryor Creek, Oklahoma) and Exercise (Dunhuang) recently shown at UCCA in 798 , Beijing.
Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) John Gerrard, POWER.PLAY at UCCA, 798, Beijing Summer 2016
What is real and what is a real representation are some of the internal workings going on with you as you experience these huge simulated light sculptures. These ambiguous interventions are so very similar to camera work. The slow steady panning of movement is quite hypnotic and the viewer needs time to find out how they are responding to this slightly strange yet familiar world.
But there are many layers to this new media and lucky for me Gerrard is one of the most articulate artists I have come across.
These pieces of software do not exist if they’re not energized. “The works are effectively energy in transit. That’s their condition. There is no film. There is no artifact. You simply have this set of instructions, which is bundled into an executable file. Without a computer to execute it, you have nothing. So my logic around that is that this is a very pregnant way to respond to contemporary conditions, because a lot of our realities are profoundly influenced by what I would call the algorithmic turn. Investment banking, political decision-making, military decision-making, trade, supermarkets: they are modeling reality, and, on that basis, they are making decisions about how reality is formed.”
As with all other aspects of global life, China has a greater impact today than it did 30 years ago. But Chinese artists, especially the women, are still an unknown quantity. Luise Guest tries to tackle this shortfall in knowledge with an intriguing and well-presented look in her book, Half the Sky. At 224 illustrated pages the book highlights the work, sometimes bizarre, always thought-provoking, of the gender in China that Mao claimed held up half the sky. Anyone who has visited China know they do more than that and the 32 artists featured in the book keep the sky from falling in ways you can barely imagine.