For its 30th anniversary programme, CFCCA Manchester holds a number of exhibitions of some of China’s most celebrated artists.

Launched in February 2016 and running until July, the “30 Years of CFCCA” exhibitions programme features high-profile artists from Greater China.

Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) exterior by Arthur Siuksta (2015). Image courtesy CFCCA.

Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) exterior by Arthur Siuksta (2015). Image courtesy CFCCA.

In February 2016, coinciding with the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, Manchester’s Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) launched a six-month programme of exhibitions for its 30th anniversary. The anniversary programme invites artists from CFCCA’s history, who have become internationally acclaimed, to return to Manchester to exhibit new work.

CFCCA began in 1986 as a Chinese cultural festival held in Manchester’s Chinatown and organised by artist Amy Lai. The ‘Chinese View Arts Association’ has evolved throughout three decades across three venues and two name changes, from Chinese Arts Centre to its current Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art.

CFCCA has dedicated itself to representing Chinese arts and culture in the United Kingdom since its inception, and is today one the country’s leading organisation for the promotion of and research on Chinese contemporary art.

Xu Bing, 'Book from the Ground'. Photo: Arthur Siuksta. Image courtesy CFCCA.

Xu Bing, ‘Book from the Ground’. Photo: Arthur Siuksta. Image courtesy CFCCA.

Revisiting the 21st Century

The exhibition programme has so far featured renowned artists whose new works explore developments, important events and social trends of the 21st century.

Xu Bing’s Book from the Ground (5 – 28 February 2016), a book written entirely in symbols and emoticons, reflects today’s increasingly digitalised communication. From 4 to 27 March, Cao Fei presented La Town, the story of a post-apocalyptic metropolis made entirely from the filming of sets and miniature models.

Tsang Kin-Wah portrait. Photo: Kenji Morita.

Tsang Kin-Wah portrait. Photo: Kenji Morita.

Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah mixes language with floral patterns, typically presented as large-scale wallpaper prints or immersive projections, such as in his exhibition “THE INFINITE NOTHING” at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. His new installation First trumpet in the new millennium, on display at CFCCA from 8 to 24 April, addressed one of the major world events of the 21st century to date – the terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001.

Tsang Kin Wah, 'The First Trumpet in the New Millenium', 2015, screenshot. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

Tsang Kin Wah, ‘The First Trumpet in the New Millenium’, 2015, screenshot. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

The artist took YouTube footage of the event and used it to compose a black and white video that depicts, according to the press release, “a chaotic and impermanent world where creation and destruction take place at the same time”. Tsang considers how the 2001 attack heralded a “new era” – the new millennium.

Tsang’s first exhibition at CFCCA took place in 2008. Entitled “What are you looking at?” it was a provocative show that used design and text to engage with issues of consumerism, sexual desire and transaction.

Lee Mingwei, 'Between Going and Staying', MOCA Taipei, 2007. Photo: Lee Studio.

Lee Mingwei, ‘Between Going and Staying’, MOCA Taipei, 2007. Photo: Lee Studio.

The Ephemerality of Existence

Launched on 6 May and still ongoing until 29 May, Lee Mingwei’s installation Between Coming and Going explores the ephemeral nature of existence and the particular experience of “finding oneself suspended in a moment between place, time and history”. The installation was inspired by Octavio Paz’s homonymous poem and consists of a dimly lit room in which fine black sand continuously falls from a broken lightbulb suspended from the ceiling.

Lee Mingwei, 'Between Going and Staying', MOCA Taipei, 2007. Photo: Lee Studio.

Lee Mingwei, ‘Between Going and Staying’, MOCA Taipei, 2007. Photo: Lee Studio.

The room quietly fills with black sand, while a melody of an Asian cello-like instrument called a MaToChin plays in the background. The dim lights, the soft movement of the sand and the music create a space for contemplation, inspiring visitors to reflect on the fleeting nature of a moment in time.

In 2013, Lee presented The Living Room and A Quartet in Galleries 1 and 2 at CFCCA. The immersive installations encouraged the audience to develop a personal relationship with the work through their interactions with the space.

Gordon Cheung, 'Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan', 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

Gordon Cheung, ‘Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

China: a 21st century global superpower

Also launched on 8 April alongside Tsang Kin-wah’s installation, Hong Kong artist Gordon Cheung’s exhibition runs until 19 June and comprises a series of new works that examine the relationship between civilisation and conquest. Cheung appropriated Chinese propaganda posters, glitched by using a computer algorithm. The fragments of the posters represent the accelerated transition of time from era to era, mirrored by China’s changing ideologies as depicted in the images.

Gordon Cheung, 'Tempering red hearts', 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

Gordon Cheung, ‘Tempering red hearts’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

As CFCCA explains, Cheung addresses in particular

the social, moral and political climate surrounding China’s emergence as a 21st century global superpower, and the Western anxieties relating to this shifting global landscape.

Cheung first worked with CFCCA when he took part in the ‘Breathe’ artist-in-residence programme. In 2008, CFCCA held his solo exhibition “Death by a Thousand Cuts”.

Gordon Cheung, 'To Go on a Thousand Li March to Temper a Red Heart, 1971', 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

Gordon Cheung, ‘To Go on a Thousand Li March to Temper a Red Heart, 1971’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and CFCCA.

susan pui san lok, 'RoCH Fans & Legends'. Photos: CJ-11. Image courtesy CFCCA.

susan pui san lok, ‘RoCH Fans & Legends’. Photos: CJ-11. Image courtesy CFCCA.

Exploring popular culture through wuxia

susan pui san lok contributed artistically and critically to CFCCA’s development throughout the 1990s and first exhibited at the institution with Retrospectre/Un-(part 6) in 1996, while in 2006 she presented her work Golden (Years). From 3 June to 3 July, the artist will present a new body of work entitled RoCH Faans & Legends, commissioned by QUAD and CFCCA, in partnership with the University of Salford and Animate projects.

susan pui san lok, 'RoCH Fans & Legends'. Photos: CJ-11. Image courtesy CFCCA.

susan pui san lok, ‘RoCH Fans & Legends’. Photos: CJ-11. Image courtesy CFCCA.

Featuring single and multi-channel moving image works, the exhibition takes place both in the gallery and online. RoCH (Return of the Condor Heroes) draws on adaptations of the classic wuxia epic The Condor Trilogy (1957-61), published in the late fifties by Hong Kong author Louis Cha. Wuxia (‘martial hero’) is a genre of Chinese fiction recounting the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Through her oeuvre, the artist explores some of the genre’s recurring tropes, fantasies, landscapes and archetypes as well as its presentations in popular culture.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1150

Related Topics: Chinese artists, Hong Kong artists, Taiwanese artists, museum exhibitions, installation, film, video, events in Manchester/UK

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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