On May 16, 2014, sponsored by the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (namely OCAT), the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale: “We have Never Participated” was unveiled at OCAT Shenzhen and Hall B10 at Shenzhen OCT Creative Culture Park. The 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale invites Marko Daniel, General Curator of the Public Program of Tate Modern in UK, who is rich in international curatorial experiences and the vision, to serve as the curator. In order to prepare the exhibition, Marko has spent more than two months visiting and investigating Chinese and European artists, to form the curatorial subject that is “We have Never Participated”. This subject continues to develop the concept of “social sculpture” put forward by the famous artist Joseph Beuys, and invites a total of more than 30 artists from around the world to present their works.
The press conference for the exhibition was held at the OCAT library at 2:00 pm on May 16. The conference was hosted by Art Director of OCAT Carol Yinghua Lu, honored guests included curator of the biennale Marko Daniel, artist representative Sheila Pepe (USA), Hong Hao (China), Hector Zamora (Brazil), Meiro Koizumi (Japan). Carol Yinghua Lu introduced the history of the “Sculpture Biennale” and the work of OCAT to the present guests and media, the curator emphatically introduced the curatorial concept, and several artists shared their creative ideas, as well as the understandings of “participation” and “not participation”, with the public.
Since the “Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale” (formerly known as “Shenzhen International Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition”) was founded in 1998, the exhibition project has always kept an academic openness and continuous attention in the experiment and exploration of artistic creative mediums, starting from the 7th biennale which was jointly curated by Carol Yinghua Lu, Liu Ding and Su Wei, the project was officially taken over by OCAT, and renamed as “Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale”. The biennial also continues with the core value that the last biennale and the OCAT have always insisted on: taking the research work as the basis and fundamental driving force, being “serious” and at the“forefront”.
According to the tradition of OCAT, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal recommended the candidate curators of the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale to its academic committee who then used an election to decide the curator. At the press conference of the exhibition, Daniel expounded his curatorial idea source and the thinking of the current situation of the artistic development in detail.
It confused people when it put forward an exhibition concept “we have never participated”, but this confusion and the related discussions are also the reasons why Daniel formulated the subject. The exhibition observes again the common phenomenon of “participatory art” in contemporary art, thinking again the historical source of “participatory art”. On the one hand, “participatory art” has become the mainstream of contemporary artistic practice; on the other hand, the curator also wants to reflect the difference by comparing the present participatory art time and the initial ways of presentation.
Daniel uses “post- participatory art” to describe current many participatory arts. He said, in the process of the investigation he found that “participatory art” was unbalanced in various districts of the world, such as “participatory art” was already very mature in Europe, while it was rarely seen in some places, and when I talked about it with the artists, the exhibition theme “we have never participated” was formed. The theme referred to different modes of “not participatory”: on the one hand, the theme referred to “participation” which was not a common systemfor art, on the other hand, it referred to naturally and unrestrainedly refusing the “participatory” visit, “participation” and “not participation”which was referred to in the broader space, such as the relationships between the individual and society, the individual and the whole political system.
Interestingly, it claims that “we have never participated” restating the “We Have Never had Modern (1991)”, an important book by French social scientist and anthropologist Bruno Latour in the era of the booming of “Post-Modern Art”.
Under the logo of “post-participation”, the selected works of the biennale cause the creation of participation to be based on the viewer’s free judgments in different degrees, whether through action to invite, to reflect, to criticise or to contemplate. These contemporary or early works through different mediums constitute the content of the exhibition, offering the participatory art and the history of social research a frame that is a reference to the contemporary art practice. Exhibition works use daily life, ignored aspects of life, seemingly common space, structure and building as reference, which provideaesthetic forms for a variety of social realities.
It is worth mentioning that the public educational programs of the biennale are very distinctive, the center of hall A presents a documentary center integrated with an archive hall, library, and installation, and through organizing extensive public projects to form a discussion platform around the biennale theme. The artists and other invited speakers and participants participate in these programs, which will continue for a further three months, it will incessantly launch lectures and exchange activities. At the same time, in order to strengthen the public’s understanding of many conceptual works and participation, the exhibition specially trains 39 volunteers, who will guide the audience in the around the exhibition hall.
About the exhibition
Sponsor: The OCT Contemporary Art Terminal
Curator: Marko Daniel
Associate Curators: Lv Peiyi, Claire Shea, Wenny Teo
Opening: May 15, 2014
Duration: May 16 to August 31, 2014
Venue: Hall A, B of the OCAT Shenzhen and Hall B10 in Shenzhen OCT Creative Culture Park.
Address: Enping Road, Overseas Chinese Town, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, 518053, China
Text by Zhu Li, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.
Photo by OCAT Shenzhen, Courtesy of OCAT Shenzhen.