Friday, October 15, 2010

MoCA Shanghai Envisage III

Stephanie Hsu
Contemporary Art and New Media in China
Blog Post #5

MoCA Shanghai Envisage III
Our Contemporary Art and New Media class had the opportunity to visit the MoCA Shanghai's Third Envisage Biennale, "Reflection of Minds," in the last few days before the exhibition's closure. "Reflection of Minds" was curated by Wang Weiwei and the renowned Ding Yi, a Shanghai-based abstract painter who has exhibited his works internationally. Having recruited young artists in China to participate, The MoCA Envisage 2010 sought to present the various directions of the Chinese contemporary art scene and the broad scope of ideas and concerns engaging young Chinese artists today. Through the works of these artists, the MoCA Envisage aimed to discuss the social and environmental issues of the rapidly changing contemporary world, as well as their impact on spirituality and aesthetics.
At the exhibition, I observed the wide variety of media, subject matter, and stylistic approaches among the works, finding myself both gripped by the distinctiveness of each work and searching for the logic that brought them to a shared space. Among all the works in the exhibition, I felt most engaged with Hu Xiaoxiao's sculptural installation "Black Dwarf" and Chen Wei's photography pieces "Everlasting Radio Wave" and "Honey in the Broadcast."
Hu Xiaoxiao's "Black Dwarf" consists of three sculptures of streetlamps and the "light" they emit. The three streetlamps range in height and employ three types of media to portray the solidified "light"—concrete, iron, and plastic. Through its contrived representation of light, the installation juxtaposes the natural and the purposeful with the artificial and the futile.
Chan Wei's type C-prints both show the intrusion and outbreak of something undesirable into a closed space. While "Honey in the Broadcast" deals with a swarm of bats, "Everlasting Radio Wave" depicts throngs of small black insects; in both pieces, the face of the human subject in the scene is not visible to the audience. Chan Wei's two works evoke strong feelings of isolation, discomfort, and imprisonment.
While the exhibition also featured paintings and sculptures, I felt most drawn towards the installation, photography, and video pieces—the installation pieces, for their creative manipulation of a basic gallery space, and the photography and video pieces, for seeming to grapple more effectively with the exhibition's focus on social and spiritual issues that are emerging with the changing times.

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