Last Saturday’s opening of the Tang Contemporary’s latest group exhibition, DIY, brought out local artists and enthusiasts alike. Cai Guo Qiang made an appearance, took a quick tour of the work on display, graciously attended to a crowd of telephotos, and slipped away before the scrum became too agressive.
The stated theme of the show is freedom from a curatorial viewpoint. How exactly this is possible, since the artists were ‘selected’ to take part in the exhibition, eludes me, but here you have it from the gallery: “Nowadays, the exhibition of contemporary art normally requires a curator, this has already become an established system, and the operation of this system has increasingly led to a situation of the monopoly of art resources, the power has been within the hands and minds of a few people. Curatorial system comes from the West, the original idea was to insure the artistic quality of exhibition and to lead the art direction in levels of theory and ideology. It’s not to say that there is anything wrong with the system itself, human society needs discipline and system, but they are more functional in terms of social economy and social structure. In regarding contemporary art especially, its unique value and meaning is largely contributed by its gesture of independence from mainstream society and its critical manner towards system and authority. So the upcoming exhibition that will be accommodated in Tang Contemporary Art Beijing in March is just such an activity that consciously rejects the conventional idea of curatorial system. The exhibition actually will be curated by the participant artists themselves, it’s going to be an exhibition of autonomy. The artists try to break up with the very idea of fitting into the thematical frame work set up by curators for each exhibition by organizing an art show themselves. This way will certainly endow them with more freedom and liberty in terms of artistic creativity. Most participant artists are quite young, some of them have already acquired their reputation internationally, and some of them have just stepped on the stage. They declare that they are not against curatorship itself and therefore the system, they just want to explore an alternative way that enable artist enjoying doing their work more freely.”
Two of the more memorable pieces in the show:
He Chi’s East Wind consisted of about 40 workers, a flag, flagpole and 40 strips of rubber hose. The workers climbed into a pit and were instructed to blow into hoses as hard as they could in an attempt to raise up the Chinese flag at the top of the pole. Immediately following the performance, they were taken outside of the gallery where they were paid in cash for their efforts.
I like wolves and wolves like me. Qin Ga’s wolf was set to howl whenever a viewer approached.