Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interrupt. Jin Shan. German Student Show.

April 11th - Interrupt - Fei Contemporary Art Center
Stephen the Spectacular (jin Shan solo exhibition) - ddmwarehouse
April 14th - German Student Show - Shanghai Theatre Academy

While the pieces were quite different and unrelated, the Interrupt show lived up to its purpose - to have no purpose. This sounds like a negative thing, but in fact it was quite the contrary. The artists "interrupted" the flow of how art is made, displayed, viewed with a variety of different mediums including video, performance, installations, etc. While at first the pieces seem well executed, yet none too memorable, upon further examination and research, Interrupt becoems a remarkably brutal show. The content of the pieces carried with them an almost sinister edge, especially the works of Li Pinghu, Wu Ye, Li Ming and Wang Xiaofeng. The added element of danger greatly augments the effectiveness of the show considerably. The purpose of "interrupting" becomes more clear as the artists do not shy away from crassness of real blood or even death. Wang Xiaofeng's Source uses sound to spew pig's blood a few feet into the air. Each viewer let out a primal scream and watched the blood fly into the air. Upon reflection the interaction is quite morbid, however while doing it and not knowing that the pool was actually real blood, Source was really fun. Reminds me of primordial soup now that I think about it. More immediate was Wu Ye's Me Too, a video in which the artist spins around while holding a rabbit outwards. Eventually Ye loses his balance and the rabbit is launched away. It a horrifying site made even more horrifying when the artist gets up and does it again until the rabbit dies. I was taken aback but morbidly curious at the same time and thought of how a piece like this would not be possible in New York (showing this in New York would really be an interruption, to say the least). Other pieces include Li Ming's Doctor Ou Yang's Midnight - a short film about a doctor examining and being repulsed by his own body. While the video is certainly graphic, it seems like it's meant to shock and beyond that is just a chore to watch. Also Li Pinghu's performance (which I actually missed) where five men dressed in business suits begin to pick away at a layer of fake skin. The aftermath was not gruesome by any means, but the strewn papers and disrupted chairs remained untouched throughout the day. Aside from the more gross pieces were a number of playful installations such as doodles on packages and Yi Ming's 99 and 1, a documentation of an experiment done to determine the strongest egg of a batch of 100. While at first Interrupt seemed somewhat run-of-the-mill, it actually ended up being quite memorable for the artists lack of fear and utter disregard for the conventional method of art-making.

Li Pinghu performance

Wu Ye Me Too

Li Ming 99 and 1

Wang Xiaofeng Source

Next was ddmwarehouse to see Stephen the Spectacular, a solo exhibition by Jin Shan. I was very excited for the show from the pictures promoting it. While the show itself was enjoyable, it was strange and lacked the energy I had anticipated (maybe its because I was about 1.5 hours late). The performers didn't do much other than look bored, and most of the other parts seemed static both physically and artistically. I felt little walking through the makeshift shelter and even the operating table with the taxidermy goat. Perhaps it was the lighting of the studio shoot compared to the bright harsh lighting of ddmwarehouse that detracted from the work. Also the new location contained a great deal of unfinished construction that almost "infected" the show, even leading me to believe the show was perhaps unfinished. Following the visit I reread the artist statement, which in a way lowered my feelings about the show even more. I did not perceive the themes of martyrs, which Shan stressed. Overall Stephen the Spectacular has some interesting visuals and costumes, but overall was a bit of a let down.

Missed the Andre Kneibs opening at Contrasts much to my dismay. I'll probably go sometime next week.

While at the Jin Shan show we met some German art students studying abroad with a show on Tuesday at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. The cards promised "more cold beer" (there was some), but said little about the actual works. The show definitely had the feeling of a student show with a couple of pieces needing some work in terms of execution. However the opening was rather fun due to the organizer - Rainer...something. A teacher with messy hair and sunglasses, speaking to everyone and offering them alcohol that smelled exactly like ethanol. The only piece that stood out for me was a photography triptych that showed a red string starting at the ground, climbing past eye level, and finally disappearing into the sky. It was simple, but well executed and clean.

photos from Art-Ba-Ba Blog,

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