Thursday, November 30, 2006

In and Out: Exhibition on Contemporary Chinese Art

Art is extremely complex in a country with rapid social transformation and imbalanced social development. Gradual acknowledgement and adjustment is necessary of contemporary social development and art media from a government perspective awareness and structured policy alteration. As for the people, history still dictates and directs society’s understanding of the value of art to the aesthetic desires of the common individual. China exemplifies this situation with its continuous progression of art history throughout the years. In contemporary China, traditional aesthetic perception and historic models of art have a strong presence whether it is an artist’s creation or the public’s acceptance of art.

However, since the 1980’s, new artistic conceptions are born and new artistic explorations occur. This new wave of ideal illustrates the passionate pursuit of expression, the clear recognition of modernity and cultural relevancy. It endlessly crashes against convention and established boundaries to break through and reveal a vastness of possibilities. While reflecting Chinese social transformations this new wave of ideal promotes and increases the expansion and revolution of Chinese art to uncharted horizons. In the rigidity and boundaries of history and tradition, a group of young Chinese artists surpassed the chains of culture and established their authority in individuality. Through the representation and expression of individualistic intellect and experience, these courageous challengers exemplify the spiritual prowess that is now known as “avant-garde.”

Art history is made when individuals transcend rooted restrictions and plant a new milestone in the course of artistic expression. The impact that they make in a social and aesthetic context to present a cultural representation through multiple facets of perception allows them to relate globally. The Stars Exhibitions of 1979 and 1980 are both indicative examples of highlights in Chinese and global art history. By freely articulating their voices and ideals through art, the members of the Stars Movement such as Huang Rui, Ai Weiwei, Ma Desheng, Huang Yongping and many more surpassed the great walls of Chinese culture and tradition. Their resonance of individuality excels the restraints emplaced. Works such as Huang Yongping’s installation “The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes” (1987) shows his transcendence beyond traditional Chinese art in the illustrative methods and the ideals embodied.

To translate and represent an art exhibition so that it may communicate with a global audience with different and independent backgrounds, the art exhibit must portray itself through multiple angles and perspectives utilizing manifold methods and media. The Alors, La Chine? Exhibition (2003) illustrates the works from two perspectives: looking outwards from a familiar standpoint and looking inwards from a foreign standpoint. Using buildings, film, music, and other media to strengthen and improve the exhibition, the curators allow for the art to embrace audiences of any context. The emphasis on integration is representative of contemporary Chinese art. It encourages Chinese to see and reach beyond to the boundless world beyond and it welcomes foreigners to witness China’s exotic appeal. Jia Zhangke, a Chinese director, films his individual experience and details in daily life and appeals to the audience with his individual emotions and experiences. By presenting all of this in a Chinese context, he addresses the cultural significances in Chinese society and sheds light on the good and bad while trying transform Chinese society away from the bondage of all the negatives of tradition. And since the film focuses on the experiences of individuals, it connects with a global audience—Western especially—and opens China to them.

Supported by exhibition catalogues, art magazines and journals, and the extensive online database provided to me with media instruments such as Google, I present the exhibition research I have here.

No comments: