|Looking, Looking, Looking for…, Kan Xuan (2001)|
courtesy of the artist
|The Dinner Table, 2006, Wang Gongxin|
courtesy the artist, collection of the Neilson Family, White Rabbit Collection, Sydney
Zhang Peili is in fact recognised as the first Chinese video artist. The piece included here, Water—Standard Version from the Dictionary Ci Hai (1992), features a news presenter reading the full nine-minute definition of the word for water from a dictionary. As there is no translation offered, the experience for an English speaker is purely conceptual, but the correlation with works by Western artists such as Bruce Nauman is clear. As Peili is such an important figure, it would have been interesting to experience at least one other work of his (as we do with Wang) to get a clearer sense of his practice and of the beginnings of video art in China.
There appears to be a clear lineage between Zhang and Wang’s work—in the manipulation of temporal qualities and the concentration on live action—expressed in the work of two of the younger artists represented. In Kan Xuan’s Looking, Looking, Looking For…(2001), presented on a small screen, a tiny spider skitters over naked male and female bodies, exploring every crevice and orifice. Both playful and disturbing, the work has the ease and directness of approach that characterises a generation born into a media and technologically driven age. Similarly, Ma Qiusha’s A Beautiful Film (2007) suggests an artist immersed in a critical exploration of screen culture as well as contemporary representations of sexuality. She uses close-ups of pornographic images to create a hazy, romanticised vision of beauty, accompanied by endlessly scrolling movie credits.
|Liu Lan, 2003, Yang Fudong|
courtesy of Shanghart gallery
|Flowers of Chaos, 2009, Wu Junyong; exhibited as part of Mu: Screen, UTS Gallery|
courtesy of the artist
|The Ink History, 2010, Chen Shaoxiong|
courtesy the artist
The UTS Gallery was well transformed to house the substantial number of video works in this exhibition, although the issue of soundbleed presented a problem. While some works were well served by headphones, there were still four soundtracks mingling in the reverberant, tiled space. The effect was exacerbated in the use of video projectors as audio source for two works rather than placing speakers in close proximity to the actual projection. This meant that sound and image became quite dislocated and confusing, particularly in the case of Sun Xun’s work.
Marie Terrieux is a freelance art consultant, with her own company, Shuang Culture, advising collectors and institutions and working with established and emerging artists from China and the region. Her thorough knowledge of the Chinese art scene is evident in this exhibition, which includes illuminating contextual information on the website. Terrieux’s choice to present artists across three generations provided a fascinating introduction to an area of art-making only just beginning to make the same impression as other Chinese art practices on the international stage.
Mu:Screen, three generations of video art, curator Marie Terrieux, artists Wang Gongxin, Zhang Peili, Chen Shaoxiong, Yang Fudong, Ma Qiusha, Wu Junyong, Sun Xun, Kan Xuan; UTS Gallery, Sydney; June 1-July 9; www.utsgallery.uts.edu.au; www.muscreen.com
Wang Gongxin’s The Dinner Table (2006) was lent to Mu:Screen by the White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney which houses the largest private collection of contemporary Chinese Art outside China. www.whiterabbitcollection.org
RealTime issue #98 Aug-Sept 2010 pg. 56
© Gail Priest; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org