CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY SHOW SOLO EXHIBITION
With the beginning of the winter season in Shanghai, MadeIn artist collective held a solo exhibition of its new works titled “Action of Consciousness” which explored the concept of action. It was on display at ShanghART Gallery Main Space and H-Space from 12 November to 12 December 2011.
Why “Action of Consciousness”?
Since the company’s first solo exhibition in 2009, “Seeing One’s Own Eyes – Middle East Contemporary Art Exhibition“, MadeIn has been using “action” and “behaviour” as a method and concept. For “Action of Consciousness”, a continuation of the group’s earlier project “Physique of Consciousness“, oil paintings lined the walls while large-scale sculptures took up floor space and hung from the ceiling. According to MadeIn’s initiator, Xu Zhen, central to this exhibition was an exploration of the ways in which works of art are perceived and interpreted by the viewer.
MadeIn Company [has invented] a new way of admiring artwork, extending the existence possibility of the ‘object’ and redefining the rights of the observer. … In the continuous process of completing, transforming and redefining art, the ‘object’ as an artwork and the ‘action’ as consciousness become new viewing content and challenge reality.
Click here to visit the website of MadeIn Company and here to read more about the exhibition, “Action of Consciousness”, held at ShanghART gallery and H-Space.
Four series of works
The exhibition was comprised of four series of works. The installation series “Action of Consciousness” and “Play” were on show at ShanghART Gallery; ShanghArt’s H-Space exhibited a series of oil paintings called “Prey” and a sculpture series titled “Divinity”.
“Action of Consciousness”
“Action of Consciousness”, described by Xu Zhen as “the main piece of the show“, consisted of a large, white cube from within which different items such as photographs and sculptures were thrown up into the air by performers. Each item was glimpsed briefly by the audience before falling back behind the walls of the box. Xu Xhen comments on the installation in a TimeOut Shanghai article,
If you see such a white box in a museum, you won’t be able to make sense of it. You’ll use everything you know, your location in an art gallery, etc., to establish that this is a piece of art. The meaning of it, like why it’s white and so on, you might not find out. Bias helps you perceive things, but it also distorts your perception of them.
In “Play”, silicon sculptures of naked women accessorised with bead necklaces, feathered headdresses and lip plates were presented to the audience. Each sculpture was suspended from the ceiling using hemp rope and tied in way that was reminiscent of traditional Japanese bondage techniques. The women depicted in the installation were widely perceived as being of African descent, but the MadeIn artists countered this view, saying,
These aren’t African sculptures, … perhaps when we think of a wild civilisation we easily think of Africa. If you look carefully, these sculptures [that use] erotic bondage techniques aren’t completely like ‘black’ people, they actually have the bodies of Asian women. Everyone is the same; we always use some cultural inertia to ‘observe’.
The huge sculptures in the “Divinity” series resembled tribal art except that they were carved from polyurethane foam rather than wood, and were painted black or covered in candle wax. Xu Zhen was quick to point out, in the TimeOut Shanghai article, that any resemblance the sculpture bared towards African art was merely a misconception on the part of the viewer. TimeOut writer Sam Gaskin explains this reaction further,
The sculptures don’t have the weight of historical artifacts; they’re cursory combinations of things, as insubstantial as preconceptions or hazily recalled Wikipedia pages. … The polyurethane foam sculptures also prompt false understandings. They’re rhetorical traps.
“Prey” is a series of oil paintings which are described in an interview with Xu Zhen by Randian publisher Christopher Moore as being “realistic paintings of poor homes (emphasised in the [MadeIn] catalogue by being ‘displayed’ in wealthy homes)”. Mounted on the walls of ShanghART’s H-Space,
These works combine [a] passion for ‘old damaged things’ with ethic principles, disturbing moral awareness and [the appreciation of] beauty, and ironise [the] aesthetic relationships between art and misery.
In the Randian interview, Xu Zhen states that “from a general point of view, this [series of works] is a ‘process of prey capturing’. At the same time, it is meant to satisfy people’s feelings for classicism, and people’s aesthetic need for ‘poverty’.”
MadeIn Company catalogue launch
The November-December 2011 exhibition at ShanghART coincided with the launch of MadeIn Company’s first catalogue, Action of Consciousness. The catalogue, developed around MadeIn’s main concept of “producing creativity”, incorporated all the major works created by the artist collective since its inception in 2009.
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