Fabricated Paradises/Paradis Fabriqués (自制天堂)
-- artists from China an exhibition curated by Hou Hanru
Le Parvis, Ibos, Vidéokiosque, Pau, France
18 November – 3 January 2004
China is no doubt the most attractive centre of attention for the world today, not only in terms of it’s economic development, but also in terms of its cultural and social mutations. Accordingly, China’s contemporary art is becoming a new emerging force in the global art scene today. The presence of Chinese artists in major international art event is spectacularly increasing while more and more people from the international art world are visiting and acting in the Chinese art scene. It’s no surprise that one can talk about a genuine fever for everything Chinese.
This year, Chinese contemporary art has become the main part of the cultural events under the umbrella of l’Année France-Chine.
It is in this situation that one should ask the question: what’s the real significance of Chinese contemporary art in the Chinese society and in the globalising world today. One can also raise the question, through exploring the “boom” of Chinese art, of the significance of contemporary art in general in the world.
Contemporary art activities in China has been developed along with the speedy modernisation process of the country. It’s fundamentally a movement of experiment and “avant-garde”. The ultimate motivation is to achieve freedom of imagination and expression although the cultural, political and economic conditions are constantly changing and evolving towards further opening. However, the rapid modernisation and integration into the global market economy and geopolitical restructuring imply new and increasing pressure coming from the demand of the economic growth and transformation of the nature of cultural activities into exchangeable “objects” in the global market and communication systems. This provokes a kind of unprecedented collective fever of development. Ironically, this tendency pushes further the uniformisation of the society and leaves less and less space for individual freedom and independent intellectual positioning.
It is in this urgent context that we should articulate on the importance of re-examining the independent and individual positions and expressions in the arts, as a concentrated reflection to the necessity of rethinking China’s and the world’s intellectual and cultural maps.
Covering an extremely immense territory and different contexts, contemporary art in China is a highly diverse and complex scene. The opportunities of frequent presences in the internal and international art world have not only excited the artists. For many, it’s also a crucial moment for critical reflections on reality and consolidation of personal stances and independences. These artists, by further profound researches and persistence on their own thoughts, imaginations and creativities, reaffirm that very essential vocation of art is open spaces for freedom, freedom of imagination and creation. Instead of manipulating superficially “social and political signs” to satisfy the expectations of institutions and market, they refuse to be instrumentalised by either national or international establishments. They resort to the most diverse and personal languages and references to express their ultimate fantasy. Often with great senses of humour and distant but pungent comments, they fabricate their own heavens, their own paradises, of imagination, fantasy and ideals. Incorporating experiences navigating between memories and dream, between personal desires and philosophical reflections, between everyday, “minor” initiatives and revolutionary projects… they are constantly developing their works in the most unpredictable, unfathomable and even uncertain ways. Using all kinds of imaginable media, they open their works and lives to the most risky intellectual and cultural adventures.
This is the strongest resistance to the pressure the real. In the meantime, it’s also the most powerful involvement with the real.
The artists selected in the project are among the most representative ones struggling in such a particular but indispensable realm. Their works not only reveal their own projects of “fabricating paradises” but also provide the public with direct experiences in sharing moments of living in the paradises, moments of jouissance.
Artists – Part 1, Le Parvis:
Yin Xiuzhen 尹秀珍: Tea House, or Suitcases (installation)
Chen Shaoxiong 陈劭雄: Variety of Anti-terrorism (video projections)
Zhou Tiehai周铁海 : Chinese film stars’ portraits (paintings, to be installed in the cinema poster panels)
Zheng Guogu 郑国谷 : combination of calligraphy project and workshop project (installation)
Yang Yong 杨勇 : photo-wallpapers (outside walls)
Gu Dexin 顾德新 : Flash animations on TV wall in the electronic shop.
“Coming from the people, going back to the people” + interludes
this section includes video works documenting the alternative strategies of surviving the explosive urban mutations in China today.
Wang Jianwei 汪建伟: “Living Elsewhere”
Ou Ning, Cao Fei and U-theque 区宁、曹斐及缘影会： “San Yuan Li”
Lu Chunsheng 陆春生： “That’s All Wright Brothers’ Fault”
Interludes (inserting moments of astonishment and fun… )
Xu Zhen 徐震
Kan Xuan 阚萱
Liu Wei 刘韡
Zhu Jia 朱加: “Shine”
Zhou Xiaohu 周啸虎: “The Gooey Gentelman”