GUEST, a new collective established for the purpose of this exhibition but already active on other projects, comprises five of China's most convincing young talents: Li Ming, Lin Ke, Lu Pingyuan, Xu Qu, and Zhao Yao, all of whom have also begun promising solo careers. In this assemblage of installation, painting, and performance, GUEST attempts to capture the absurd, poke fun at the self, and entreat the audience to "stop being so serious."
Here, GUEST presents itself in the form of a circus. The works draw influence from the theatrics and fantastic disorder of a carnival, encouraging "an exit from reality, then a willingness to laugh at oneself, and finally a realistic acceptance of chaos," in the artists' words. Performers clown around, acrobats maintain precision and symmetry, and a piece of meat has been tamed. The works evoke at once blank faces and raucous laughter, self-deprecating punnery and serious introspection.
Created by Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen in 2009, MadeIn Company is an artistic collective that acts as a platform for clever, collaborative expression. An influential conceptual artist in his own right, Xu Zhen's intent in founding MadeIn Company was to downplay his own persona and provide direction for other artists. MadeIn Company has developed a tricky artistic personality, often employing disguises and playing with the audience. In an effort to force viewers to question their own interpretations, MadeIn Company have done everything from stage a "group show of Middle Eastern artists" to mounting a recent show in which sculptures were only visible fleetingly when tossed into the air above a set of empty walls built in the gallery.
With the punchline "madness is like gravity... all you need is a little push," MadeIn Company has curated an exhibition that juxtaposes the absurd with the somber, but amidst the confusion, the viewer may be unable to distinguish the two once the big top comes down.