The theme of exhibitions at OCAT Xi’an this spring is “environments”. This is explored in moving images, photographs,and research projects which investigate individual lives as well as changing communities. In short, the works of the eight artists we present this spring cover a wide range of ideas and experiences of very different environments. As a theme, in its broadest sense, the environment means the very world we live in. That world takes slightly different forms depending upon where we live, but no matter where that might be, everywhere today people share the experience of certain phenomena in common, albeit in slightly different ways that result in different effects. For example, in China, the most obvious effect of global warming, or of the rapid development of urban centres, is the phenomenon of air pollution.
In an on-going documentary film project titled Assembly Line, Shanghai-New-York based Li Xiaofei records the flow of small-scale production lines in factories that produce basic daily commodities. These include salt, coal, copper and silver as well as cigarettes and chocolate. The factories are often small and the production processes dirty, yet as framed by a camera lens even the most polluting of materials can exude an unexpected beauty. Is that good or bad? How does that make us feel? This is a question Assembly Line tackles to great effect.
Deng Dafei takes us on journeys through the city fringe, where the outward sprawl of urban centres into suburban areas is colonising large tracts of land that were once in the service of agriculture. For his Project of Notes on Xi’an: In Remembrance of Ruin, the artist uses the traditional art form of rubbing, using rice paper and ink to achieve a facsimile of a textured surface, to document places on the fringes of th city in the process of being disappeared.
In his painting, Beijing-based Lu Song also wanders through the shifting landscapes that are evolving on the edge of urban environments. Similar to the visual beauty that Li Xiaofei finds in assembly lines, Lu Song’s brooding vision, at times magical, at other darkened by a haunting disquiet, lulls viewers into a duplicitous mood of serenity before awaking us to its deeper message.
The Spring Exhibitions run from March 4 to May 28.
Hu Yun: Shaanxi – the Wreckage of Space Probes Recycling Depot
Shanghai-based artist Hu Yun has developed a practice that centres on fascinating narratives. The stories that he unravels and weaves together in art works are all inspired by real people. They are evolved through a process of research, which may, equally, take an interesting question or discovery as its prompt. In pursuit of his curiosity, Hu Yun has journeyed to many different places. Some being specific locations, including historic sites, in different countries. Others take the form of diverse institutions, such as museums, libraries, or scientific laboratories.
Hu Yun travelled to Xi’an in 2016 to start research for his presentation, and explore new histories that aroused his curiosity: “Shaanxi – the Wreckage of Space Probes Recycling Depot”, thus becomes the main theme for this project. This area further overlapped with a journey made by Hu Yun’s grandfather during modern China’s revolutionary period – a journey that Hu Yun mapped out, through a series of conversations with his grandfather. Since then, Hu Yun has repeatedly drawn upon his grandfather’s memories as source material for his projects as the artist seeks links between himself and history.
The exhibition runs from March 4 to April 9.
Chen Qiulin: Another Day
Following the success of the Xi’an Showcase project space, we launch Personal Space to provide a platform for young artists from outside of Xi’an to showcase their work. This dedicated programme will give particular place to young artists making an institutional debut, to women artists and artists working in unusual fields or with unconventional media.
The work of Chengdu-based artist Chen Qiulin contains a sustained focus on populations and cultures that, in the process of urbanization in China, have become marginalized. Her explorations of this topic combines a variety of media including video, photography and installation with personal experience and sensitive reflection.
As the first show in “Personal Space”, Chen Qiulin presents the multimedia work Another Day. It originates with her study of the living conditions of women in the southeastern mountains of Guizhou Province. In China, women living in rural areas far from the city are not only completely abandoned by modern life, but subject to local traditions. Typically, they cannot enjoy equal status with men even in family life. Beds become their only privacy; a space to which they are tied, but where they can also feel free. Another Day consists of two parts, one an installation with a bed as its focus. The other combines a video work and photographs with local women as their subject. Here, Chen Qiulin brings her exquisite observation and experience to explore the natural instincts of these good-hearted women and the awe in which traditions are held. Chen Qiulin invests these traits in the female actress for her work, as she wanders through the village, like a jewel hidden in its narrow lanes. In this way, she shows the old traditions which have little place in modern civilization but remain the core of life in rural communities.
The exhibition runs from March 4 to April 9.
Courtesy of OCAT Xi’an, for further information please visit www.ocat-xian.org.cn.