Cang Xin, Han Bing, He Yunchang, Hei Yue, Huang Yan, Ian Teh & Wang Wei, Jia Youguang, Li Wei, Liu Bolin, Liu Jin, Liu Zhuoquan, Miao Xiaochun, Shao Yinong & Mu Chen, Sze Tsung Leong, Wang Wei, Weng Fen, Wang Jin, Wang Qingsong, Zhang Dali, Zhang Baijun, Zhao Liang, Xuli Wenyan.
China’s cities are emerging at mind-boggling speed from ruins and masses of building materials and turning into futurist visions of glass buildings and skyscrapers that owe everything to globalised Western architecture. The city walls of the past are being razed to make way for the foundations of new, universally coveted eldorados.
Chai-na: two Chinese characters meaning “demolition here” and pronounced exactly like “China” in English. Chai-na is the vast shadow over the dazzling China that is now the cynosure of all eyes. But beyond the success story lies another one, shot through with sadness and even bitterness. Chai-na/China is the great contradiction of our times, a reality that must be faced and expressed if the future is to be imagined. Chai-na/China reflects a period of transition common to all the country’s cities: a fluctuation between demolition and construction that for the last ten years has been the driving force for a large part of the artistic community. For the upheavals occasioned by the combination of all these urban changes are leading to a radically different formulation of social relationships, to a historical and cultural gulf within which anxious, uneasy artists are seeking the contradictions of their age.
The exhibition Chai-na/China brings together the work of 24 artists of generations ranging from the internationally known Zhang Dali, Huang Yan and Miao Xiaochun to such very young creators as Jia
Youguang and Liu Jin. The original exhibition took place at DIAF – the Dashanzi International Art Festival – in Beijing in 2006, where it was part of “Soldiers at the Gates”, a programme challenging artists and architects to come to grips with the issues now facing the city of Beijing. Rather than illustrating a specific theme, the thirty-odd works selected for Arles are characterised by the way they themselves seem to be in the process of demolition/construction. The structure of the exhibition is tripartite, but not chronological. The first part – the city in the throes of demolition – suggests a recounting of a tragically chaotic process. The second – man let loose in the city, or performance in the city – stresses the place of the subject and the body amid these new urban and social components. The third part – the real city – lets the imagination rove through close imagination of the city and the distortions it is being subjected to. Violence, humour and poetry – but with relatively little mockery – are deployed to convey the fierce contradictions.A whole generation of artists is finding it very difficult to grasp and assimilate.
Curators: Huang Rui, Huang Yan, Feng Boyi, Bérénice Angremy, assisted by Marie Terrieux.
Exhibition organised with the support of HP.