Artificial Happiness

When 7 Oct - 6 Nov 2004
Where RMIT Gallery, Melbourne

Opening: 8 Oct 2004, 6-8pm

Contemporary Chinese art has developed quickly both in China and overseas during the last five years - with a growing number of major exhibitions being staged internationally, while in China the form has become gradually accepted by the government and is filtering through into the mass media. As Chinese society continues its remarkable transition from an ideological-oriented and agricultural-dominated context into an industrial and commercial system - the so called World Factory - contemporary art practice in Mainland China has become increasingly interactive. Interesting times are periods of violent transitions and uncertainty; therefore art produced in this time is no doubt interesting.

The appreciation of contemporary Chinese art on the international art stage is undergoing an obvious change. Audiences want to see art which expresses artists' response to China's huge modernization and urbanisation program. With the first one-child policy generation coming of age amidst the process of globalization and urbanization, their perception of society and traditional culture has been changed. With the title Artificial Happiness this exhibition tries to reflect the nature of this new change from a visual and psychological perspective.

Happiness is an instinctive mental state, a psychological reaction that releases the tensions caused by depression, dissatisfaction and anxiety. One or two decades ago, this kind of reflexive happiness was rare in China due to political and ideological tensions and the shortage of commercial goods.

In today's swiftly developing Chinese economy, more and more Chinese people are getting rich while at the same time a new commercial society is taking shape. In this new society, pleasure and happiness, in the form of consumer products, are easily obtainable - for a price. Happiness now has a measurable commercial exchange value. To stimulate demand, various products promising happiness, such as drugs, cartoons and games, artificial organs, sex toys, plastic surgery, and cosmetics. Trendy products such as these are designed to be especially desirable to the more increasingly more affluent younger generation.

Many young Chinese artists are well aware of the implications of this new trend wherein happiness and pleasure are manufactured for profit. People are gradually losing their subjective and spontaneous happiness in their search for happiness through commodities. Some artists are trying to correlate their practice with this new social context. They express their concerns by means of visual language.

Free Curator Talks:
Join Zhang Zhaohui, Exhibition Curator, for a fascinating introduction to the exhibition. Zhaohui will delve into the artists' exploration of contemporary Chinese consumerist culture.

RMIT Gallery
Storey Hall
344 Swanston St
Melbourne 3000
Tel: 61 3 99251717

Gallery Hours:
Monday - Friday, 11am - 5pm; Saturday, 2 - 5pm; closed Sundays and Public Holidays


HE Jie(何杰)
WANG Zhiyuan(王智遠)
XIONG Lijun(熊莉鈞)
LI Wei(李偉)
WANG Qingsong(王慶松)
HULBERT Tammy Wong(黃雪慧)
ZHANG Xiaotao(張小濤)


ZHANG Zhaohui(張朝暉)


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