Chen Wei: In the Waves
Cheng Ran: Music is On, Band is Gone
SHANGHAI, March 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — As the first project of the chi K11 Art Museum to be launched in 2015, the K11 ART FOUNDATION has collaborated with LEO XU PROJECTS in the joint presentation of two individual exhibitions, "In the Waves," by Chen Wei, and "Music is On, Band is Gone." by Cheng Ran. This dual exhibition, entitled "Cinematheque," also heralds the opening of K11 Art Mall’s Spring 2015 Art Festival.
Chen Wei and Cheng Ran are two highly representative figures among emerging young Chinese artists. Both have frequently been invited to showcase their work at art museums and biennales around the world. In this duo show, the latest complete creative projects of the two young artists will be jointly presented, providing viewers with the exceptional opportunity to understand how the new Chinese creative generation is interpreting, revolutionizing and experimenting with visual imagery, space and performance arts using their unique artistic language. Cheng Ran created a completely new collection entitled "The Stars in the Night Sky are Innumerable," exclusively for this exhibition. He will be offering attending guests of the opening reception at 6:00pm, March 17, 2015, with an exciting performance inspired by the musical, spatial, and theatrical arts.
The exhibition is scheduled to be held from March 16 to May 31 of 2015. Throughout the exhibition period, K11 will also be holding a series of interactive events, including talks from renowned artists and debate sessions.
Chen Wei: In the Waves
Chen Wei was born in 1980 in Zhejiang Province; he now lives and works in Beijing. His creative projects are known for their manipulation of cinematic language and for their intricately crafted settings. These conceptualized installations mitigate the boundaries between everyday life and visual imagery, between landscape and dreamscape. In addition to this continuation of conceptualized installation photography, Chen Wei’s most recent creative projects also involve the simplification of graphic messages, dramatic content and narrative. His emphasis is now placed on representing the profound and minute observations of individual emotion and perception.
For this show, K11 has designed the exhibit to resemble the unique spatial sphere of a lounge bar or dance club, and will be based on two themes: the space itself and the people enclosed within it. The ways in which local youth achieve self-expression and spiritual liberation through popular culture will be portrayed in detail. To realize these visions, Chen Wei reimagined and recreated an idealized bar and dancing space, then photographed the entire setting. The large scale of the vibrantly colored photographs both capture incredible detail and provide keen observations of the cultural symbolic meaning of this unique architectural space. To account for the absence of human figures from these photographs of an architectural sphere, the artist created a collection of youthful figures and portrayed them as caught in between the flickering lights and shaded dance-floor, as if they were in the midst of a performance within the space. "This creative project was inspired by my desire to capture how the youth of today is ‘abstracted‘ out of their everyday lives. This indescribable spiritual condition does not only exist in the younger generation, momentarily entranced and entrapped by contemporary clubbing culture, but is also to be found in a wider range of contemporary cultural activities and modes of consumption. This is the feeling of ‘transcendence’ that arises out of the conflict between current social condition and the regeneration brought on by youth culture," explained Chen Wei.
Popular (music) culture has since 1980, been one of the most intuitive sources of inspiration and cultural material for the youth of China in terms of cultural consumption and production. It is also one of the easiest ways for them to indirectly access the latest international cultural products. Chen Wei’s project inspired by club culture, bars, and music is not only a vivid disclosure of the younger generation’s internal perceptive world, but is moreover an act of profiling of past local popular culture and how it has profoundly influenced the youth community in ways previously unknown to the outside world. The enormous backlit photographs arranged meticulously throughout the darkened exhibition space is a collective portrait of the modern era and community. "Music and atmosphere draw these dancing figures into wandering journeys in search of their personal dreams. But in the end, club culture is assimilation. Differences fade away as one inevitably seeks identification and recognition." This was how Chen Wei described his creative project "In the Waves" (2013) series in an interview conducted by The Guardian. The two projects that Chen Wei created exclusively for this exhibition take the rare form of large scale real-time installations. The K11 exhibition hall will be transformed into a dreamlike space resembling a bar and dance club that evokes truth and authenticity. The flashing lights and elusive shadows of the dance floor with be dramatically enhanced and enlarged to represent and mock what cliche’d high literature likes to denounce as the "Mecca" of popular youth culture.
For the past few years, Chen Wei’s exhibitions in art museums and biennales around the world include "Performance and Imagination: Chinese Photography 1911-2014" (Stavanger Art Museum, Stavanger, Norway 2014), "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists" (Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida, United States, 2014), "28 CHINESE" (Rubell Family Collection Contemporary ART FOUNDATION. Miami, Florida, United States, 2013), "Tight Rope" (Yokohama CreativeCity Center, Yokohama, Japan, 2011), "YiPai-Century Thinking: A Contemporary Art Exhibition" (Today Art Museum, Beijing, China, 2009), The 3rd Guangzhou Photo Biennial (Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China, 2009), "Mediations-Poznan Biennale" (Poznan, Poland, 2008) and many others. In 2011, Chen Wei was awarded the first Asia-Pacific Photography Award. In 2014, he was nominated for the Prudential Eye Award, United Kingdom.
Cheng Ran: Music is On, Band is Gone
The title "Music is On, Band is Gone" encapsulates precisely what the artist has striven to represent since 2010, by using video images and installations inspired by music and performance. The exhibition will include 7 video imagery projects, 3 installations of greatly varying sizes, as well as the artist’s newly published novel, and newly released musical recording. In addition, the exhibit will also showcase a live installation and a live performance created exclusively for the K11 Art Museum exhibition space. The intertextual, complementary works will clearly delineate Cheng Ran’s latest adventures in experimenting with multiple forms of artistic language and media, from visual imagery, installation art, and performance. His methodologies challenge and overcome traditional conceptualizations on how recorded images should be visually represented, and how narratives should be told. This is his response to how the younger generation is now utilizing and finding new applications for the technology, media, and information dissemination that are readily available in contemporary times.
The title project, which was engendered five years ago, is centered around the theme of retro electronic music, and consists of a series of images that portray the deep, dark, and deserted streets of a nighttime metropolis. This foreshadowed the creative theme that was to take center stage in Cheng Ran’s works over a period of time, where music or musical instruments are always the focal points of recorded images. Real yet surreal images of fleeting moments in the rehearsal room were also recorded, for example in "Chewing Gum Paper," countless wrappings bouncing around with the beating of the drum, like the bobbing heads of a crowd, or the innumerable stars twinkling in the night sky. That same year, "The Eclipse," was a display of even more illusive imagery as the viewer’s vision shifted with the changing perspectives of the camera. As the eclipse faded away, drummers at the rehearsal site beat their drums with steadiness and assurance. As a creative worker who specializes in China’s recording art, and whose unique visual language stands out among the crowd, Cheng Ran has become one of the best candidates for handling individualized elements. "To Each Its Time" is a project that is realized through the penetrating gaze of the observer that is similar to still-life photography, with the homeless saxophone player in the Berlin subway as the central figure of the video recording.
Music did not only inspire Cheng Ran with video graphic narrative and plot; even its mediums–musical instruments and musicians–play important roles in his installations and live projects. For "Eagle and Deer," the artist combined feather pens with antiquated musical instruments into a musical installation with classical design, sculptural aesthetics, and automated performance. The large scale installation, that was first revealed in Amsterdam, was built out of shattered piano frames in emulation of the broken iceberg remnants portrayed in "The Sea of Ice," by Casper David Friedrich. This cold, silent piano sculpture is also a reinterpretation of Cheng Ran’s vast collection of Beethoven sonata recording covers. By breaking down the barriers between "painting-sculpture-sound," Cheng Ran’s artistic representation allowed intangible musical sounds to become visualized tangible material.
This exhibition will show, for the first time in Shanghai, Cheng Ran’s 2014 video installation "Always I Trust," that received great critical acclaim internationally. This project involves the transformation of erotically enticing, strangely worded spam mail into numerous video recordings performed by celebrity actress Carina Lau. Lau’s confession-like interpretation, a dancing figure passing through many different spatial spheres and domains, and a futuristic, fictional representation of the city of Shanghai, all fuse into "Mail," a performative installation that is both a utopian film and a romantic play. "Always I Trust," was first unveiled at the Shenzhen OCAT Contemporary Art Center in 2014, and was later displayed at Galerie Perrotin (Hong Kong) and Palais de Tokyo in Paris using different modes of representation.
Aside from the installations and videos created exclusively for this exhibition, the opening show for the exhibition’s reception night will include a live performance in collaboration with Beijing experimental sound group "Soviet Pop" entitled "THE XXX." Cheng Ran will take the stage as band drummer for this performance, and explore the relations between individual experience and physical embodiment.
Cheng Ran was born 1981 in Mongolia, and graduated from China Academy of Art, Hangzhou. So far in his career, Cheng Ran’s works have been widely exhibited in galleries and museums both domestically and abroad, including "Inside China" (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2014), "Lost: Time, Space, Tapestry" (Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2014), The 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennales, "We have never participated" (OCAT Contemporary Art Center, Shenzhen, China, 2014), "NOW YOU SEE, New Chinese Video Art from the Collection of Dr. Michael I. Jacobs" (Whitebox Art Center, New York, US, 2014), "ON|OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice" (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, CN, 2013), "Perspectives 180–Unfinished Country: New Video From China" (Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, US, 2013), the Munich Kino der Kunst Film Festival (Munich, Germany, 2013), the 26th European Media Arts Festival (Osnabruck, Germany, 2013), "Video Art in China–MADATAC" (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, ES, 2012), "30 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art–Moving Image in China" (Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2011) and many more. Cheng Ran received a nomination for the prestigious Absolut Art Award in 2013, and was nominated again the following year for the "OCAT–Pierre Huber Art Prize." In 2011 he was awarded Best Video Artist by "Randian" magazine.
Date: 16 March — 31 May 2015
Venue: chi K11 art museum, B3, K11 Art Mall, No.300 Huaihai Road Central, Shanghai Organizer: K11 ART FOUNDATION
Special thanks to: LEO XU PROJECTS
ABOUT K11 ART FOUNDATION
Founded by Adrian Cheng in 2010, the K11 Art Foundation is a registered not-for-profit organisation that advances the development of the Chinese contemporary art movement by providing the creative incubating platform to nurture artistic talents in Greater China and bring them to the international stage and the broader audience. The foundation has embarked on creative collaborations and cross-regional experimentations regionally and globally to showcase Chinese talents and their full potential. Through research, initiatives and partnerships, as well as harnessing the passion and energy of the active participants, the K11 Art Foundation facilitates the public to enjoy a diverse array of programs and exhibitions to educate and raise the collective appreciation of arts and culture. The K11 Art Village (artist-in-residence program) in Wuhan offers the space and platform to many young artists to create and present their works.
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