This August, M+ showcases 15 artist videos, narrative films, documentaries and animations to explore urbanisation in Asia.
The 3-day programme responds to the continent’s rapid transformations in city life over the past two decades.
Featuring 15 videos and films, M+ Screenings: City Limits will be held at Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong, from 4 to 6 August 2017. The programme is organised in conjunction with the exhibition “Canton Express” at M+ Pavilion in the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong. Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, M+ is Hong Kong’s new museum of visual culture with a focus on 20th and 21st-century art, design and architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia and beyond, and is scheduled to be open to the public in 2019.
Commenting on the screening, Ulanda Blair, Curator of Moving Images at M+ says:
Representing the fast-changing realities of urban experience in an increasingly homogenous yet fragmented world, the moving-image artists of City Limits reframe urban space, positioning it not just as the backdrop or setting for action, but as a potent catalyst of history, memory and belonging.
The screening opens with five moving image works by artists working in China’s Pearl River Delta region, which consists of nine mainland cities in the province of Guangdong, as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. These areas witness rapid urban development in the 21st century, which Hou Hanru, curator of “Canton Express”, describes as a “special laboratory of modernity”. The programme also explores Hong Kong and Southeast Asia in transition.
The artists and filmmakers featured in this programme include Xu Tan, Jiang Zhi, Chen Shaoxiong, Ou Ning, Cao Fei, U-thèque, Zhou Tao, Gao Yuan, Jia Zhangke, Wang Jianwei, Zhou Hao, Tsai Ming-Liang, Joao Vasco Paiva, Davy Chou, Lee Wan and Tan Pin Pin.
Art Radar highlights 3 works in the programme.
1. Concert Hall of Zheng Daoxing — Xu Tan
Guangzhou-based artist Xu Tan, born in 1957, was a member of the Big Tail Elephant Group, an artist collective founded in the 1990s. The group, comprising of Lin Yilin, Xu Tan, Chen Shaoxiong and Liang Juhui, was formed in response to problems arising from the rapid urbanisation of Guangzhou. They are known for their performances and interventions, which witnessed the relentless urban transformation of the Pearl River Delta region in China.
Xu’s work is known for references to society’s development and change. His works have been shown internationally, including at the 50th and 53rd Venice Biennale, the 2nd Berlin Biennial, the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial, and the 4th Gwangju Biennale.
His video Concert Hall of Zheng Daoxing features singer-songwriter Zheng Daoxing from Yangjiang. Due to the 1997 Asian economic crisis, Zheng quits his job as a truck driver and becomes a travelling musician. The 60-year-old protagonist sings about his personal tale of being a farmer, a soldier and a truck driver. The video is a mixture of fact and fiction, which presents an alternative to the grand narrative of the history of the nation.
2. Living Elsewhere — Wang Jianwei
Beijing-based artist Wang Jianwei was born in 1958 in Sichuan, China. After graduating from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou (renamed China Academy of Art), the artist began creating multimedia art since the 1990s. He is known for his conceptual approach to contemporary everyday issues in China.
The artist spent his teenage years in the countryside as part of the government’s campaign of relocating urban youth to rural areas during the Cultural Revolution. His experiences in the military from 1977 to 1983 shaped his artistic practice as he later explores the notion of ideology. During the reform and opening up of China, Wang was exposed to more western art forms and theories, which had a profound impact on his art career.
In his 40-minute video Living Elsewhere, the artist reveals the story of illegal inhabitants of unfinished buildings in Sichuan Province, which highlight the urban-rural differences in China. These inhabitants are migrant workers who left the countryside to search for jobs in the city.
3. Ink City — Chen Shaoxiong
Chen Shaoxiong, also one of the founding members of Big Tail Elephant Group, was born in Shantou, Guangdong, in 1962, and passed away in 2016. He studied at the Guangzhou Art Academy and began his art career in the 1980s.
His works have been exhibited at the Mori Art Museum, Toyko; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; PS1 Museum, New York; Shanghai Biennale in 2002, Venice Biennale in 2003 and Guangzhou Triennale in 2005 among others.
In his 3-minute video, the artist presents memories of urbanisation and development in the form of monochrome ink washes. In total, there are more than 300 ink paintings featured in the video. They are based on photographs and images on socio-political change. Landmarks from different cities are fused together as if they are a blurred recollection of fading memories.
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