Za.project | forget art

Tag: Za.project

16 三月
A view of the installation at Zajia, featuring works by the Forget Art collective. Image courtesy the author.
A view of the installation at Zajia, featuring works by the Forget Art collective. (Images courtesy the author)

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BEIJING — For the past few years, the hutong area in downtown Beijing has become a new territory for experimental art spaces with the aim of establishing a different, participatory relationship with the viewers and the local people. In April 2011, Zajia Art Lab, run by Italian sinologist and curator Ambra Corinti, opened in two rooms of the former Hong En Taoist temple. Located near the Bell Tower food market in the Gulou area, Zajia hosts all kinds of experimental art, including music, performances and fine arts.

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A recent project was commissioned to the collective Forget Art, created by artist Ma Yongfeng. The collective has been active for the past couple of years doing micro-installations and site-specific interventions outside gallery spaces.

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The six artists involved transformed one of the rooms into a crepuscular vision of art and life. There were Buddhist figures carved into big white radishes, a dragon made of cabbage and a still life with poisoned apples and persimmons.

The floor was covered with fallen leaves, while, suspended between the two main pillars, was drawn a red and white propaganda banner in the style of the Cultural Revolution, carrying the English version of the Chinese proverb “May your matters be safe.” The sentence is a play on words with the Chinese words “apple” and “persimmon.” A heavy stone was hanging from a chain attached to the central beam, and a pretty Chinese hostess in executive clothes provided incoherent introductions to the artworks for the public.

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In the room next door a video, shot the day before, showed interviews with all the artists, some of them naked, in an atmosphere reminiscent of a Delacroix painting.

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The show, titled Not Only a Taoist Troublemaker, leaves behind a sense of tragedy and loss; the temple, that, for a while, was also a factory, a market and a mahjong playhouse, has been abused by the same means that once made it fertile.

Artist Wu Yuren beneath a hanging stone.

Artist Wu Yuren beneath a hanging stone.

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Fruits and vegetables lie silent together with the fallen leaves and the banner warns you of an omnipresent danger. The nice smell and the vivid colours are less convincing than their possible double meaning — decay and poison — while the hanging stone creates a threatening tension.

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One of the artists, Wu Yuren, spent two hours underneath the stone, creating a powerful image about the condition of the free thinker in Chinese society.

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“It’s like if there is some kind of danger underneath the carpet of leaves, some hidden trap … ” A Chinese art student commented after seeing the intervention.

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Turning towards nature and asserting spontaneity, Forget Art proves a fresh, non-conformist, attitude towards making art, but the melancholia in this work seems to suggest also a different message: certain contemporary artists in Beijing are disillusioned about the façade of the new China and they are starting asking “naked” questions to everybody, not just to the art world.


6 十二月

from ArtSlant  http://www.artslant.com/cn/articles/show/28905

by Edward Sanderson
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Not Only A Taoist Troublemaker! was a short-lived exhibition occupying a leaf-strewn room in a small arts space attached to a bar. A bar with a vegetable market behind; sharing a building that housed a screw factory during the Cultural Revolution. A screw factory built inside a Taoist temple, replacing the site’s original Buddhist temple. This overlapping of every kind of ideology provided an ideal backdrop for the six artists’ work in this show curated by forget art.

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forget art is an organisation created by artist Ma Yongfeng, about whose “guerrilla” tactics I have written once before on ArtSlant. It has become well-known for the ironic nature of its exhibitions, interventions, and projects. These activities are keenly self-aware of their contexts, and never take themselves too seriously.

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Prior to the opening of this new show, Ma Yongfeng had already laid the conceptual and experiential groundwork by initiating a series of “naked” interviews with the artists and academics. Ma’s aims seem to be, on the one hand, to provide a forum for the sort of serious discussion that he feels is lacking in the art environment in China. On the other, by performing au naturel he is pushing the situation out of kilter. The participants’ exposure may lead to a more open discussion – at the very least it places the speakers in a new, less comfortable position.

Ma Yongfeng12:35pm, Fallen leaves on the floor, 2011; Courtesy Edward Sanderson

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This was also his reasoning behind collecting twenty bags of autumn leaves from a forest in Beijing’s outskirts and transporting them into the gallery. This literal groundwork had the benefit of pulling the whole space together with its softness underfoot and the earthy smell that it brought to the space. Ma explained to me that this was beyond simply an intervention – it was an effort to create an atmosphere or even some kind of aura.

Hu XiaoxiaoBaptism, Wash cloth, vegetables, pins, 2011; Courtesy Edward Sanderson

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Picking up on this, Liang Ban’s carved radishes rested on an open window-sill and Hu Xiaoxiao’s failed (in a good way) image made of vegetable matter hung in place of honour against a plush red velvet curtain at the back a small stage. The radishes were clumsily carved with figures, as if these were nascent within the vegetables, awaiting their revelation; and the backdrop hung where a Buddha figure or Christian cross would normally be situated, spot-lit on the raised stage, at the focal point of the room. Counteracting any particular readings, a smartly-dressed woman hired by artist Lu Zhengyuan performed as an unreliable guide to the show, providing background to the works with guesswork and rumours, creating an atmosphere of misunderstandings for her audience.

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Hanging above the stage, Alessandro Rolandi’s red propaganda banner announced, “MAY YOUR MATTERS BE SAFE.” This statement is typical of the ambiguous situations in his work, subtly raising its issues with reality. These words overlooked and seemed to ironically relate to Wu Yuren’s large rock suspended from the ancient rafters. For the opening, Wu stood under this 200lb stone, forcing himself to remain in this precarious position. While perhaps not long enough to privilege this activity as “durational,” he was stationary long enough for a call of nature to be performed amongst the leaves – I have to recognise this as (some sort of) commitment to the (in)activity. In discussion with the curator and audience, he finished the piece by removing his clothes and standing naked under his stone – disrobing again appearing as a means of expression with its parallels to the online response to Ai Weiwei’s charges of pornography (although Ma Yongfeng’s original naked interviews antedated this particular meme).

Performance by Wu Yuren, Work by Ma YongfengNot Only A Taoist Troublemaker! installation view; Courtesy Edward Sanderson

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I don’t want to sound dismissive of Wu Yuren’s activity, however, as it had a deeper rationale than its surface appearance might suggest. In 2010 Wu was jailed for ten months under questionable circumstances and since his release has intermittently been called in for “a cup of tea” by the authorities (as questioning is euphemistically referred to). This serious and continual pressure on him is expressed through this work.

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Whether that makes it a “good” work, I am not sure; my immediate reaction was that I did not like it, even with the background, feeling it was too literal and unsubtle. But I have to respect the fact that it reflects Wu Yuren’s being on the blunt end of the system, and that aspects of his situation are more common than one might expect. He has more right than most to comment on this experience, and of course I do not know what it is like to live through his experience or what it is like to be under this continual pressure. The activity was all done in seemingly good spirits – one way to deal with such serious matters, perhaps.

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This attitude was reflected in the original Chinese title of the show, “不是吃素的” or “not a vegetarian,” a euphemism for not being a push-over, which the curator described as presenting “a very simple, radical attitude.” The English title refers to the Bohemian reputation of Taoists, saying that this show is not “only” about that, in a typically open move.

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Although it is obvious I had many reservations about this show, maybe because of those reservations I still felt this was a powerful exhibition that did manage to create a strong impression on me due to at least in part to its scattershot nature.


15 十一月

Not Only A Taoist Troublemaker !


Forget Art ‘s site-specific project

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Inside the front hall of a temple.

Guerrilla non-site intervention and situation-based tactics.

A sense of time and position lie behind attitude!

Six artists’ work of de-professionalization and site-specific installation

setting temporary and subtle landscapes against the religious building.

Space is a unceasing practiced place !

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Curated by Forget Art

Organized by Za.project

Artists: Hu Xiaoxiao, Wu Yuren, Lu Zhengyuan, Ma Yongfeng, Liang Ban, Alessandro Rolandi

Opening at 3-6pm, Nov. 20,2011

Showing from Nov.20 to Dec. 20, 2011

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Venue: 杂家 zajia lab

open hours: daily 5 pm to late

Tel: 15601122252 / +10.84049141/ zajialab@126.com

地址:北京市东城区旧鼓楼大街豆腐池胡同(钟楼菜市场旁边)地铁鼓楼站B口出
Hong En Daoist Temple (beside Bell Tower food market) Doufuchi Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing

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About exhibition’s location:

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杂家zajia lab

project space/bar

Zajia lab provides space and resources for artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of art and culture.

Zajia lab’s project space is located in the hutong of Beijing inside the front hall of Hong’En Taoist Temple.

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Hong’En Taoist Temple:

Hong’En Taoist Temple is located in Beijing at the back of Bell Tower, close to the city central axes. During the Yuan dynasty it was called “Thousand Buddhas Temple”, but its name was changed into “Temple of Peace and Quiet” during the Qing Dinasty.  During the reign of Emperor Tongzhi (1862-1875),Taoist priest Liu Chengyin renovated the temple building and renamed it “Hong’En Taoist Temple” (Taoist Temple of the Vast Kindness) and also erected a commemorative stele in which he expressed the wish that “people visiting the temple shall look upon the God of Kindness with deep respect and devotion and shall always protect and sustain the temple”. During the Cultural Revolution, the temple was used as a factory of spare parts. Nowadays, between the front hall and the main audience hall of the temple there are a supermarket, a grocery market and a souvenir shop.

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不是吃素的!

Forget Art 的特定场地项目


展览前言:

一座寺庙的前殿。

游击性的“非在场干预”,以情境为媒介的策略。

态度的背后形式是一种时间感和阵地!

6位艺术家“业余性”的现场制作,对宗教建筑微妙抵抗的临时景观。

空间是一种不断地被实践的地点!

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策划 :forget art

主办 :Za.project

艺术家 :胡筱潇、吴玉仁、卢征远、马永峰、梁半、Alessandro Rolandi

开幕时间: 2011年11月20日下午3:00 – 6:00

展期 :2011年11月20日-12月20日

地点杂家 zajia lab

project space/bar

Tel: 15601122252 / +10.84049141/ zajialab@126.com

地址:北京市东城区旧鼓楼大街豆腐池胡同(钟楼菜市场旁边)地铁鼓楼站B口出


关于展览地点:

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杂家zajia lab

杂家lab为艺术家和文化创新提供空间和资源,努力推动创新艺术的发展。 杂家lab空间是位于北京宏恩观前殿里面胡同里。

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寺庙介绍:

宏恩观位于钟楼后面,紧邻北京中轴线。曾是元代千佛寺旧址,明代称清净寺。同治年间,刘诚印道士重修清净寺并改称为洪恩观,同时立碑纪念,希望“居是观者,仰鉴神恩而永为护持焉”。文革期间洪恩观用作北京标准件二厂厂房,现在前殿和大殿之间则是菜市场、超市和纪念品商店。


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