Under the Skin
||15 Apr - 25 May 2006
Opening: 15 Apr 2006, 5 - 7pm
The opening exhibition of UniversalStudios-Beijing brings together three artists from China and Europe. The photo and video works of Jiang Zhi, the video installation of Aernout Mik, and the paintings of Zhou Zixi all show the interest of contemporary artists in experiences which go beyond the make-up of a superficial political or ideological reception of reality.
Starting as good observers of our everyday life, these artists reveal a more meaningful 'world' by analysing what they see around them in all different aspects of our changing society. By putting fragments of their research results together, they show us their vision of a new imaginative reality. In doing this, they combine all aspects of our modern, turbulent society: from the estrangement of individual existence to the hectic pace of social life; from low-tech painting and sculpture to high-tech digital image production.
Mik's installations combine human behavior, performance and sculpture, moving images, architectonic constructions and interior objects into environments that visitors can walk through. By doing so, visitors are completing these works as participating performers. In addition to the artist's fascination with individual behaviors and movements, Mik is particularly intrigued by the social dynamism of groups, by the unstable relationships between bodies, gestures, behavior and the environment.
The work exhibited here, Vacuum Room (2004) depicts scenes from a political assembly between chaos and stasis, ostensibly disrupted in its cohesion by the arrival of a group of young protesters, and continually threatening to disintegrate. The images of the conference room come from six simultaneously filming CCTV cameras distributed around the room and will be shown synchronically as life-size projections in the exhibition. Here, as in Mik's other works, the rejection of classical cinematic narrative conventions and the renunciation of any form of dialogue or sound reveal the effects of human behavior in all their inconsistency, outside any type of psychological or rational explanatory framework.
In this exhibition, Jiang Zhi exhibits his photographic work Sucker and his video piece Fragment. Sucker is a virtual world crafted from video, installation, music, and writing. The artist imagines a new kind of humanity, which can attain knowledge or interact with people just by sucking in. "Sucking and being sucked" is a concept that illuminates the complicated relations among individuals, and between society and the world.
The artist tries here to give form to a virtual society. "Fragment" is a fantastic presentation of real life. The artist here has recorded some normal happenings from his life in the Pearl River Delta region, the kind of mundane things that it is easy to ignore. In terms of substance they are neither deep nor great, and in form they are neither beautiful nor humorous.
All the actions are clear and all the context and meaning of the actions have been erased. It is more like the imaginary real than the real, shining its glory as freely as possible, and preparing to provoke those innumerable and indefinite relations. Obviously, what Jiang Zhi wants to achieve through the imagination is the effect of a poem which can protect us from the mass of reality for a moment.
The recent paintings of Zhou Zixi confront us with interiors of what could be the apartments of new urbanites in China: functionally designed and decorated, equipped with fitness instruments and other icons of healthy life, with art on the walls, they present everyday life scenes from a recent past. In these works the artist shows his lucid ability to combine visual impressions evoked by our complex and multi-layered society, in which television, newspapers and magazines, artworks and internet sites are his resources. Coming from literature, the artist started painting in the late Eighties. From that moment he began collecting the images with which he works today, without interpreting or manipulating them into ideological kitsch. He shows the vitality, gorgeousness and extravagance of new urban life. But as a reporter of that life, he stays at a distance, knowing that there is more in this world, like his older, smaller paintings show us: scenes from the countryside, from factories and villages.
Other participating artist: Aernout MIK
Photo courtesy of Univeralstudios-Beijing and the artists
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Chao Yang District, Beijing, China
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