Curator: Chen Junyao
Duration: 2023/7/15 – 9/2 (Tue. - Sat. 11am-6pm)
Location: ShanghART M50, Bldg. 16, 50 Moganshan Rd., Putuo District, Shanghai
Geng Dayou's artistic creations focus on the projection of individual states onto everyday objects. Drawing inspiration from the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk”, the artist continues the core of Romanticism in his work. By intertwining personal experiences, affective connections to everyday objects, and spatial memories, he creates an enduring sense of “nihilism” and establishes a state of potentiality entangled within social contexts. The exhibition titled “When No One is Around, Dance Gracefully” emerges from the absence of a subject, reflecting the remnants of subjectivity and the loss of self. It serves as Geng Dayou's observation and feedback on the diminishing subjectivity in the face of complex social conditions, as well as the deconstruction of the sublime within popular culture, aiming to reshape order and seek spiritual transcendence in modernity.
In the stage play, Parsifal, the ambiguous and bizarre plot may leave the audience perplexed. However, it also leads to symbolic interpretations of the characters, bringing forth the entanglement of the past and the present, which is consumed as entertainment. Carl Jung, for instance, once regarded Amfortas's unhealed wound as a metaphor for a split in the psyche that cannot be cured between civilization and savagery. Similarly, Geng Dayou chooses to translate ready-made objects into indecipherable, cold, and dramatic installations, often subverting or rejecting their functional purposes. This resistance, akin to theater, involves concealing the main subjects and narratives, presenting only fragmented anchor points and epilogues. The artist assumes the role of an observer, extracting a specific memory moment as a clue to determine temporal and spatial nodes, thereby reproducing the concept of “synchronicity”. By binding together numerous possibilities of the past and the future, he foretells our current embrace of unexpected outcomes with minimal tolerance, relinquishing our right to choose. The rupture of time extends into space as electric cables traverse the walls, striving to break free and transforming the independent and serene exhibition space into a cage.
This transference of emotions onto objects, rooted in contextual situations, transforms everyday objects from their mundane nature into subjective projections of the human experience. The subjectivity of contemporary individuals may be gradually eroding, entangled within entertainment culture, technological determinism, and consumerism. This imbalance fosters a sense of disarray as personal daily moments are compressed and dissolved. The endless monotony inclines people towards “observation” rather than “participation”, even in activities labeled as “entertainment”. With a sense of detachment from many scenes of life, observation replaces direct participation as the primary attitude towards engaging in daily life. From this perspective, modernity, under the empowerment of contemporaneity, becomes a starting point for imbalance, leading us astray from established paths and losing warmth. In the exhibited works, the Sisyphean helplessness in “Centipede”, the termination of infinite recursion in “Continued Recursion”, and the extension of “gears” as the basic unit of social modules construct a cyclical, endless, void, and aimless overall structure. Furthermore, as a shared experience pervasive among the masses, “When No One is Around, Dance Gracefully” becomes a collective opening ceremony, a united resistance against nihilism.
Dayou Geng (1998) is an artist who currently lives and works in Shanghai. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from King's College London and a Master's degree in Contemporary Art from the Sotheby's Institute of Art in London.
Dayou Geng’s artistic practice revolves around exploring hidden emotions and collective memories within public domains. He employs various mediums such as installations, moving-images, sounds, video-games etc., to recreate multiple “situations” with a touch of absurd humor and theatricality. Through his work, he extracts and distills various paradoxes of modernity.
Junyao Chen (b.1995) is an independent curator and part-time research fellow at the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry (ICCI), Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He currently lives and works in Shanghai. He graduated from the Department of Digital Media of Beijing Normal University in 2018 and received a master's degree in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art in 2020. His curatorial practice and research focus on spatial politics in the context of urbanization, the publicity of digital media, and the digital human landscape in the public environment.
In 2022, he was funded by the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) Annual Academic Conference 2022. His curatorial proposal was shortlisted for the 2022 Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival Curatorial Award For Photography And Moving Image Finalist Exhibition. His thesis and research project, "Urban Regeneration with the Intervention of Industrial Transformation and Curatorial Ideas - A Case Study of Dafen Village, Shenzhen" was selected for the International Conference on Global Cultural and Creative Industries and Development (2021) and published in the interdisciplinary journal Telematics and Informatics Reports and has collaborated with several domestic and foreign art institutions and contemporary art galleries, written review articles for media and artists.
Related Artists: GENG DAYOU 耿大有