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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- “Wang Yin: The Gift” acknowledges a deep reciprocal legacy – artist profile – May 2016 – the retrospective comments on China’s intellectual and cultural history, drawing on history as much as autobiography
- “White”: Shanghai artist brothers Chen Yujun and Chen Yufan at Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong – May 2016 – “White” is a joint exhibition of Shanghai-based artist brothers Chen Yujun and Chen Yufan, as its May offering in a monthly rotating exhibition schedule
- “Extravagant Imagination, The Wonder of Idleness”: 7 young Chinese artists at MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai – April 2016 – curated by Lu Mingjun, the exhibition at Xu Zhen’s MadeIn Gallery in Shanghai brings together seven young Chinese artists who bridge the past and present
- The genius of Uli Sigg unveiled at the Whitworth – July 2015 – an exhibition of the M+ Uli Sigg Collection arrives in Manchester for the last leg of its European tour – revealing the visionary nature of the collector
- UK’s largest exhibition of Chinese art at Asia Triennial Manchester – in pictures – October 2014 – CFCCA’s Jiang Jiehong tells Art Radar about curating shows in 6 venues in Manchester featuring 30 renowned Chinese artists as part of Asia Triennial 2014
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