Artist Wen Fang has a way turning an eye toward the often overlooked. In a way, some of her work memorializes the unfortunately common. This first installation – a room filled with hanging knives printed with images of garbage – is titled Rain and illustrates this well. She explains the personal story and Chinese idiom behind the installation:
“One day I was on a public bus, heading to a suburban enclave not far from my home on the outskirts of Beijing. The road was lined on both sides by filthy, stagnant drainage ditches. The disgusting smell of the water wafted into the bus, immediately wiping out the hunger I was feeling a moment before. The water was blue-grey, and looked quite thick. The surface was covered in floating instant noodle packages, popsicle sticks, rotting vegetables and other garbage that couldn’t be sold as scrap. Suddenly I saw a stray dog at the edge of the ditch, trying to drink the water. Several times he would approach the water with his snout, only to be repulsed by the powerful stench. In the end, I guess he was just too thirsty, and he hesitantly stuck his snout in the water, taking a few gulps. It sent pangs through my heart. Lots of migrants live by the drainage ditches. Their kids run around like wild dogs, and are just about as dirty. About half of their toys were picked up along the side of this road. None of the adults control their actions, as these migrant workers are too busy trying to eke out a living, and the old people just sit there by the side of the road. The Chinese refer to these situations as knives raining down from the heavens…that is to say; this is the worst it can get…I don’t know if this is the worst possible situation, but these knives often cut right into my heart. That’s why I make them, so that everyone can see these knives. Economic development is a sound idea, but how much money does it take to be truly wealthy? I spent my childhood playing in the wilderness around here, while these kids are spending their childhoods playing on the trash heaps. I really wish these kids could grow up in gardens, just as we promised. But what I really don’t know is, when we finally have enough money, whether or not the garden will be anything more than a bunch of sharp knives.…”
The Metamorphosis Series by artist Shi Shaoping is a poetic look at life. Shi created 3,000 ceramic eggs over the course of a year. Each egg weighs about 22 pounds and as a group come in at about 48 tons. The eggs were then taken to some of China’s loneliest locales. From grassland to beach, deserts, and mountains, the ceramic eggs were spread out on the ground. The entire project was documented with photographs and videos.
In a way The Metamorphosis Series is as much a site specific installation as it is a performance. Shi set before himself an intentionally difficult project, one that would entail hard work, a journey, and perhaps transformation. Like the egg, these too are a symbol of life. However, they clearly also point toward potentiality – the field of eggs seems poised to hatch. The exhibition statement goes on to relate about the project:
“Shaoping is like a fortuneteller who uses the 3,000 giant eggs to remind people of the weight of life. The beauty of the work is the unpredictability, and the unlimited imagination it brings. The fragile yet vigorous eggs of life emphasizes that we eventually have to respect every single living thing in the universe. The sands may cover the frost-glazed castle; the soaring fallen leaves may blanket the ground. The persistence and power of life, however, will fight against the mediocrity and itself. The contradiction is the language Shaoping’s looking for to express his world of Metamorphosis. This triggers the speculation and discussion on contemporary art and life value.”
Trevor Jackson‘s ceramic work is deceptively innocent. Hand painted in blue, hidden behind animals, flowers, and flourishes are deadly weapons. His work are definitely conversation pieces for an especially hot topic. While his intentions with the pieces aren’t entirely obvious, the series is clearly political. Typically utilitarian weapons are presented as garishly decorated and entirely harmless. Dishware that is often passed down from generation to generation is stylized with politically intense imagery.
Livia Marin‘s Broken Things seem just fine. The sculptures of her Broken Things series do indeed appear to be broken ceramic dishware. However, for what the household items lost in usefulness retain in its aesthetic value. Congealed liquid seems to pour out of the damaged cups. The decorative patterns are pulled along out with the container’s little spill. The sculptures are reminiscent of a family’s “good china” – utilitarian objects that seem to cherished for their decorative nature rather than ever see any use.
High level of intensity from Chinese artist Xue Jiye. No additives or preservatives.
Working mostly in earthy/flesh tones, Xue just goes for all-out anguish in his work. Contorting and mutilating his subjects, he reduces us all to our most animalistic, base tendencies. I never mind when an artist chooses to bring the pain when the work is as good as these are.
Cool project from the DDB China Group for the China Environmental Protection Foundation:
We decided to leverage a busy pedestrian crossing; a place where both pedestrians and drivers meet. We lay a giant canvas of 12.6 meters long by 7 meters wide on the ground, covering the pedestrian crossing with a large leafless tree. Placed on either side of the road beneath the traffic lights, were sponge cushions soaked in green environmentally friendly washable and quick dry paint. As pedestrians walked towards the crossing, they would step onto the green sponge and as they walked, the soles of their feet would make foot imprints onto the tree on the ground. Each green footprint added to the canvas like leaves growing on a bare tree, which made people feel that by walking they could create a greener environment.
It’s nice to see a project that gets the public completely involved without sacrificing any quality control. See some detail images after the jump. (via)
Zhang Kechun‘s photography series The Yellow River keeps a watchful eye on a natural resource that has brought both support and devastation to the country it runs through. While Kechun agrees it is “improper for a photographer to make comments on mountains and rivers” a subdued palette offers a thoughtful visual documentary that needs no comment.
“As being alive, we all go by with time. But we are still here, and we may have a better consideration on the future after having a look at the past and present with heart.” — excerpt from artist’s statement (via WeWasteTime)
Luo Yang is a photographer from Shenyang, China, now living in Beijing. Working strictly with film and rarely doctoring her photos, Luo Yang’s work is an exploration of youth: longing, uncertainty, spindly-limbed awkwardness, and, of course, an endlessly enviable sense of cool. In her shows, highly staged portraits, casual poses, and spontaneous shots all appear alongside on another, blurring the inherent truth of the medium of photography.