- ABOUT THIS EXHIBITION
The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art opens its 2013 program with ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice. This groundbreaking exhibition, which will occupy all UCCA exhibition spaces, marks the most comprehensive survey to date of the generation of artists born after the death of Mao and the end of the Cultural Revolution, and at the dawn of the country’s era of opening and reform. Unparalleled in scope and unprecedented in concept, ON | OFF will feature 50 commissioned works by 50 artists and artist groups.
Curated by Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong, ON | OFF is an effort to effectively document a new generation of Chinese artists born after 1975 who have “grown up in a society and culture beset by binaries, constantly toggling between extremes.” The title ON | OFF, which comes from the graphical interface of a common VPN (virtual private network) software used to scale China’s Internet firewall, represents this binary condition at its simplest and most direct.
The exhibition is rooted in a series of such tensions that intensified in 1999, just as the Internet was becoming implicated into everyday life. Since then, it is precisely this generation of artists that has surfaced and begun to attract attention, as Chinese contemporary art has moved away from the underground scene of the 1990s and a new commercial market and institutional infrastructure have come to replace it. Today’s most notable young artists are the recipients of formal art educations, and many are gradually fitting into a rising gallery system. They exhibit a strong tendency toward self-organization and collective practice, yet represent a wider diversity of individual subjectivities and styles than ever before seen in China. They actively participate in the emergence of new art institutions even as they question and mediate these developments. Unlike previous generations, they stay informed of international developments in real time, even as they continue to run up against a distinct and specific set of constraints and challenges.
ON | OFF is above all a research project, drawing on preparatory visits to more than 200 artists in cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, and Shenyang. Accompanied by a wide range of publications and programs, the exhibition aims to articulate a generational sensibility by highlighting individual positions. “Since its founding in 2007, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has been a platform for presenting the freshest artistic voices in China, and for placing them into the twin contexts of Chinese art history and the international conversation around contemporary art,” said UCCA director Philip Tinari. “We are extremely excited to mount an exhibition that will showcase the wide range and high caliber of work being made in China today.”
Birdhead, Chen Wei, Chen Yujun + Chen Yufan, Chen Zhe, Chen Zhou, Cheng Ran, Fang Lu, Ge Lei, Gong Jian + Li Jinghu, Guo Hongwei, He Xiangyu, Hu Xiangqian, Hu Xiaoyuan, Huang Ran, Jiang Pengyi, Jin Shan, Lee Fuchun, Li Liao, Li Ming, Li Ran, Li Shurui, Liang Yuanwei, Liu Chuang, Liu Xinyi, Lu Yang, Ma Qiusha, Qiu Xiaofei, Shang Yixin, Shi Wanwan, Song Ta, Song Yuanyuan, Sun Xun, Tang Dixin, Wang Guangle, Wang Sishun, Wang Yuyang, Wen Ling, Wu Junyong, Xie Molin, Xin Yunpeng, Xu Qu, Xu Zhe, Yan Xing, Yang Jian, Yang Xinguang, Zhang Ding, Zhang Liaoyuan, Zhao Yao, Zhao Zhao, Zhou Tao.
ON | OFF will be accompanied by a full calendar of events, including a lecture series, a documentary screening, and a concert series.
SEE / SAW: Collective Practice in China Now is a preliminary exhibition to ON |OFF that invites thirteen artist collectives to show for one-week intervals. Curated by UCCA curator Paula Tsai, SEE / SAW examines the production processes and decisions involved in creative collaborations, which have become a major trend in the Chinese context during recent years. In focusing on the concept of the “group” and exploring notions of co-dependence and reaction, viewers are, with the exhibition’s weekly reincarnations, urged to observe how the exhibitions may or may not play off one another.
Participating collectives include Double Fly Art Center, A Diaodui, Museum of the Unknown, Zuzhi, North Village Independent Workshop, Irrelevant Commission, 8mg, TOF, Art Praxis Space, LVXIAO, Nanshan Painting Group, GUEST, Hexie Baroque, and Cell Art Group.
“Self-made · Self-said” is the first half of ON | OFF’s sixteen-week panel discussion series, occurring in conjunction with the exhibition “SEE / SAW: Collective Practice in China Now” (2012.11.17—2012.12.30) and as a preview for ON | OFF. ON | OFF curators Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong and SEE / SAW curator Paula Tsai engage members of art collectives in lively discussions on their individual and collaborative creative practice.
“Discrepancy and Commonalities: Regarding the Particularities of Artistic Practice” will present a series of weekly panels, as ON | OFF artists as well as key figures in various areas of the contemporary art world discuss “individualism in artistic practice.”
UCCA has collaborated with ON | OFF curators Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong to create a documentary film that provides background insights into the curatorial processes and creation of ON | OFF. Xie Meng (deputy director of education and public programming at UCCA) goes on the road with the curators as they travel across China to cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, and Shenyang, researching and seeking out a “new generation” of creative minds. Premiere to be held at UCCA in March 2013.
The ON | OFF Concerts will introduce the maturity, diversity, and innovation of young composers born in China in the 1970s and 80s as well as the first-generation Chinese diaspora. Organized into three concerts to be held in January, March, and April, musical performances and 15 premieres commissioned for ON | OFF will be presented within philosophical, experiential, and experimental contexts. Curated and presented for ON | OFF by Beijing New Music Ensemble founder Eli Marshall.
- PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
b. 1982 Beijing, lives and works in Beijing
Xin Yunpeng satirizes power relations and received behaviors, often by diligently resetting rules and regulations. The installation No Problem consists of a mechanical bull—like those found at carnivals—that has been modified to deflate the moment participants choose to ride it, returning to normal as soon as the rider is gone. In this way, Xin Yunpeng creates an opposition that is never actually realized.
Exhibiting artwork : Xin Yunpeng, No Problem, 2013, PVC inflatable model, silica gel, pneumatic equipment, 500 × 500 cm
b. 1979 Fujian province, lives and works in Hangzhou and Beijing
Wu Junyong has marshaled his highly individual style and pictorial rhetoric to intervene in public events and conversations, using microblogs, e-commerce platforms, and apps to transmit his deeply political imagery. 7 o’clock is another manifestation of this thinking: 7:00 p.m. is the time when mainstream Chinese society watches the evening news, and the newsstand is a vernacular, street side form where propaganda and entertainment mix.
Exhibiting artwork : Wu Junyong, 7 o’clock, 2012, acrylic on wood, 270 x 260 x 120 cm
b. 1982 Hangzhou, lives and works in Shanghai
Tang Dixin consistently emphasizes the site-specificity and eventality of art, often through pieces that challenge the artist himself and provoke viewers. In Reverse, a human-powered propeller is set against a massive industrial fan. In a setting that recalls extreme sports, Tang Dixin finds an expression for the instinctively alienated state of his generation. Viewers are invited to participate in the piece.
Exhibiting artwork : Tang Dixin, Reverse, 2012, interactive performance installation, 20 x 3.5 x 3.2 m
Special thanks to OXAI Aircraft
b. 1976 Beijing, lives and works in Beijing, co-founder of LVXIAO, member of N12
The product of a rigorous Central Academy training, Wen Ling ultimately chose to work in the more pure and direct format of manga. In One Day in My Life he depicts an ordinary day of his life in excruciating detail, enlarging the subjective experience of each detail to the point where the quotidian takes on an air of the epic.
Exhibiting artwork : Wen Ling, One Day in My Life, 2012, ink on paper, 109 x 79 cm x 20 pieces
b. 1982 Sichuan province, lives and works in Beijing
Guo Hongwei elevates the liquid nature of his pigments to the deciding factor of his painterly language. In avoiding brushstrokes, typically a source of anxiety for painters, his method allows him to emphasize the perceptual relationship between object and form. In his series of watercolors based on the notion of “museology,” specimens are used not to evoke an epistemology of categorization, but rather, through comparison with their real-life referents, to exhibit the painter’s gifts of perception.
Exhibiting artwork :Guo Hongwei, Painting is Collecting—Bird No. 8, 2012, watercolor on paper, 100 x 150 cm, Guo Hongwei, Painting is Collecting—Stone No. 11, 2012, watercolor on paper, 150 x 200 cm, Guo Hongwei, Painting is Collecting—Plant No. 12, 2012, watercolor on paper, 150 x 200 cm
b. 1982 Sichuan province, lives and works in Beijing
Huang Ran’s installations and films attempt to describe an ineffable predicament. The contradictory relationships among materials mimic, beneath a romantic outer skin, the paradoxical relationship between the individual and the apparatus that inspires desire. In Maybe We Just Care About the Feeling of Caring, bubbles collide with a high-voltage screen and sublimate into blue sparks, thus giving aesthetic meaning to the damaging power of the current.
Exhibiting artwork : Huang Ran, Maybe We Just Care About the Feeling of Caring, 2013, stainless steel, bubble machine, bubble soap, high-voltage generator, dimensions variable
b. 1977 Shaanxi province, lives and works in Beijing
Liang Yuanwei is a painter whose cold, strong compositions articulate a spatial relationship between color and pattern. Her working method, which aims for one-time completion and allows for no errors, hints at an extraordinary level of self-control. Pisces includes two paintings of the same name created one year apart, connected to an incident from the artist’s private life. The pattern comes from the same article of clothing, and the vast difference between the two paintings gives form to her ideas of mutability.
Exhibiting artwork : Liang Yuanwei, Pisces (Left), 2011, oil on linen, 180 x 140 cm, Liang Yuanwei, Pisces (Right), 2012, oil on linen, 160 x 140 cm, courtesy of Beijing Commune, Liang Yuanwei, Pisces (draft), 2012, oil on linen, 28 x 42 cm x 5 pieces, courtesy of Beijing Commune
b. 1981 Chongqing, lives and works in Beijing
Li Shurui’s works narrate “light” in a way that is not limited to retinal optics, but rather that connects with desire and the finality of existence. Heiqiao Tower of Babel is a self-descriptive work, giving visual form to the physical surroundings (and implicitly, the professional yearnings) of the titular neighborhood in which she and many other young artists keep their studios.
Exhibiting artwork : Li Shurui, The Unknown Shimmering at the Edge of the World, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 257 x 257 x 15 cm, Li Shurui, Heiqiao Tower of Babel, 2012, wood, acrylic, marker, paint, 412 x 244 x 136 cm
b. 1976 Fujian province, lives and works in Beijing, member of N12
One of the representative figures in the new generation of painting, Wang Guangle has in recent years gradually moved from a concern with method and time toward experimentation with objects and space, from the field of the solitary canvas to an expanded notion of site. In these paintings he plays on the pure sensory tension among colors, letting the works give rise to a sense of control over the visual field.
Exhibiting artwork : Wang Guangle, 121101, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 280 x 180 cm, courtesy of Beijing Commune, Wang Guangle, 121102, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 280 x 180 cm, courtesy of Beijing Commune
b. 1979 Zhejiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Xie Molin has custom-built a painting machine based on carved printing blocks. The “visual objects” which he produces mechanically are exercises in precision, even as they reveal the constructed nature of their materials. The new works shown here were produced using Xie Molin’s earliest painting machine, intentionally returning to his initial mix of machine- and hand-manipulation as a way of contemplating mechanical aesthetics and their relation to the human urge to life.
Exhibiting artwork : Xie Molin, Ji NO. 4, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 154 x 150 x 5 cm, courtesy of Beijing Commune, Xie Molin, Inconsistent Output NO. 6, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 149 x 135 x 4 cm, courtesy of Beijing Commune
b. 1987 Zhejiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Chen Zhou infuses his videos with the language of film, and the ambiguity and in-betweenness that results has become his trademark. Muhammad Ali, Superman, and the Secret of the Banana, a work that includes both painting and video, emits a visual sparsity and coldness which resonate with his interest in the theme of the violent relations between systems and their constituent bodies.
Exhibiting artwork : Chen Zhou, Muhammad Ali, Superman, and the Secret of Banana, 2012, 4-channel video, oil paintings, Screen 1: Penis is Praying, 2012, HD digital video, 16:9, 01’54″, Screen 2: Reality Is a Show, 2012, HD digital video, 16:9, 01’21″, Screen 3: Which Pause Do You Think Is Better?, 2012, HD digital video, 16:9, 21″, Screen 4: Muhammed Ali at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 2012, HD digital video, 4:3, 26″, Oil painting 1: God’s Smile, 2012, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, Oil painting 2: Young Boxer King Ali, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm, Oil painting 3: Senior Boxer King Ali, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm, Oil painting 4: How Does That Feel, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 10 cm, Oil painting 5: Daddy?, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 10 cm
b. 1989 Beijing, lives and works in Los Angeles and Beijing
Chen Zhe uses “bees” to stand in for the chaos, violence, alienation, and unavoidable loss of everyday life—a masochistic preservation of spiritual purity through self-destruction. The group of works on view here includes 90 photographs and 40 personal letters, displaying a cautious encounter with the dialogue among “bees” that has spanned the past two years.
Exhibiting artwork : Chen Zhe, Bees, 2010-2012, photographs, letters, journals, dimensions variable, Funding for Bees was provided in part by The Magnum Foundation’s Inge Morath Award.
b. 1981 Guangzhou, lives and works in Beijing, co-founder of Video Bureau
Fang Lu’s works explore the possible relations between performance and the moving image. Lovers Are Artists is a series of works inspired by Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments; in these works the petty actions of daily life transcend their ordinary context, becoming absent-minded, yet extremely determined, actions before the camera.
Exhibiting artwork : Fang Lu, Lovers Are Artists II, 2012, single-channel video, 11’50″
b. 1977 Heilongjiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Hu Xiaoyuan’s recent videos extend the thinking on self-consciousness found in her earlier work to the level of the medium itself. Hu Xiaoyuan is able to transcend her own concrete experience, turning now to discuss time, space, and existence as more abstract elements. Axing Ice to Cross the Sea shows a woman and her actions while facing the winter sea, juxtaposing individual emotion and cold nature.
Exhibiting artwork : Hu Xiaoyuan, Axing Ice to Cross the Sea, 2012, 3-channel video, 09’40″
b. 1976 Zhejiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Jin Shan takes various forms of visual art and literary composition and mixes them about roughly, his works harshly running through a variety of media. He constructs a pressure and tension that cuts between historical themes and personal fantasies. A Brief History of Hooliganism is a continuation of his ongoing interest in the violence that underlies all histories.
Exhibiting artwork : Jin Shan, A Brief History of Hooliganism, 2012, 4-channel video, 10’28″
b. 1982 Zhejiang province, lives and works in Hangzhou
Liu Xinyi’s work includes collecting many different forms of political knowledge, mixing their logic, and creating strange new contexts for them. In this way he turns knowledge that is no longer a subject of doubt into a new pathway for experiencing the world. The two video works Rise of the 20th Century and Treasure Island turn contemporary political figures and iconic landscapes into a pageant of ideology and capital exchange.
Exhibiting artwork : Liu Xinyi, Treasure Island, 2012, single-channel HD video, 01’23″, Liu Xinyi, Rise of the 20th Century, 2011, single-channel video, 02’06″
b. 1982 Beijing, lives and works in Beijing
Ma Qiusha takes everyday activities like grocery shopping and cooking, playing with cats and walking dogs, and turns them into singular, pure forms which she uses to explore a poetic existence connected to her bodily experience. Oh, Be Sweet links interestingly and cautiously with the petty reality of daily experience, revealing a strange imagination concealed beneath the surface of the everyday.
Exhibiting artwork : Ma Qiusha, Oh, Be Sweet, 2013, polyethylene resin, animal furs, cutting machine, stainless steel, dimensions variable
b. 1980 Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, lives and works in Hangzhou
Shang Yixin uses light and shadow to construct a series of visual realms, looking for a subtle balance between the sensory and the emotional. In By the Sea, changes of light source lead the viewer to a pure and novel recognition of space and movement, and yet certain strange, dangerous elements are hidden in this gradual hypnosis.
Exhibiting artwork : Shang Yixin, By the Sea, 2012, iron, board, ETC lighting, plexiglass, dimensions variable
b. 1988 Guangdong province, lives and works in Guangzhou
Song Ta’s works often appear as anti-material conceptual ploys, unconcerned with visual aesthetics as they revel in art’s power to tease all higher objectives. Uglier and Uglier is a video that collects portraits of female students at a single university; Song Ta then uses his own aesthetic standard to arrange the portraits in order of increasing unattractiveness, in a film designed to be exactly as long as the museum’s opening hours. Confronted with the work, viewers are subjected to the artist’s right to partiality.
Exhibiting artwork : Song Ta, Uglier and Uglier, 2012, video, 425’00″
b. 1981 Jiangsu province, lives and works in Beijing
Shi Wanwan attempts to insert his own artistic practice into the arbitrary flow of social relations. An Istanbul Painter is a foreign individual of Shi Wanwan’s own imagining, whom he eventually locates through a long process exhausting all possible channels. He undertakes this process not to test his imagination, but to realize a probability.
Exhibiting artwork : Shi Wanwan, An Istanbul Painter, 2010-2011, text, sketches, 18.2 x 25.7 cm x 55 pieces, 25.3 x 35.3 cm x 1 piece
b. 1976 Shanghai, member of Zuzhi
Xu Zhe’s works are frank and funny. The musical instrument in Wake Flow is a trumpet fashioned from a plastic ladle, which Xu Zhe uses to play a reveille. The sound of the trumpet floats, deviates, and leaks throughout the exhibition space. Lonely and desolate, it serves to recall the surviving experience of collectivism in this generation.
Exhibiting artwork : Xu Zhe, Wake Flow, 2012, single-channel HD video, sound installation, 03’51″
Founded in Shanghai, 2004
Ji Wei Yu, b. 1979 Shanghai, lives and works in Shanghai
Song Tao, b. 1980 Shanghai, lives and works in Shanghai
Birdhead create a distinct world from a massive proliferation of images of their home city. Today is a group of photographs which explore the question of how photography should be displayed, playing on elements which most would consider outside the strict realm of photography proper—elements such as traces of darkroom handling, special framing materials, and the look and feel of exhibition walls.
Exhibiting artwork :Birdhead, Today 2, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, python skin, chamois leather, 100 x 78 x 6 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery, Birdhead, Today 3, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, python skin, calf skin, velvet, 47.5 x 60.5 x 7 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery, Birdhead, Today 4, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, horsehide, velvet, 78 x 65 x 12 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery, Birdhead, Today 5, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, calf skin, 65.5 x 80.5 x 7 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery, Birdhead, Today 6, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, leather mounted with alligator skin, velvet, 80 x 60 x 8.5 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery, Birdhead, Today 7, 2013, gelatin silver print, mahogany, leather mounted with pearl gourami skin, silk, 50 x 63 x 6 cm, courtesy of Shanghart Gallery
b. 1980 Zhejiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Chen Wei’s photographic works carry an irresistible sense of proximity. Through careful scenography, he endows his images with a sense of the literary, creating a world of resolute existence. In the five photographs shown here, Chen Wei begins by gently mocking his own anxieties as an artist, turning the artist’s hopeless wait for inspiration into a contradictory commentary on the gap between expectation and reality.
Exhibiting artwork : Chen Wei, Mossy Room, 2011, archival inkjet print, 150 x 180 cm, Chen Wei, Coins in Fountain Basin, 2011, archival inkjet print, 150 x 180 cm, Chen Wei, Half of the Statue, 2012, archival inkjet print, 150 x 180 cm, Chen Wei, Coins #1, 2012, archival inkjet print, 150 x 120 cm, Chen Wei, Coins #2, 2012, archival inkjet print, 150 x 120 cm
Chen Yufan and Chen Yujun
b. 1973 and 1976, respectively, Putian, Fujian province, live and work in Hangzhou
The Chen brothers began working together on their “Mulan River Project” in 2007. Taking a stream near their home as a starting point, they found a way to bring the cultural and social experience of “Chinese returning to their hometowns from overseas” into the context of contemporary art. In Fujianese dialect, “cuo” refers to dwellings and arrangements—this piece brings architectural styles, logistical systems, and the experience of materials together into a single body.
Exhibiting artwork : Chen Yufan, Chen Yujun, Mulan River | Home, 2012, wooden board, books, corrugated paper, polyester foam, plexiglass, cotton rope, 1000 x 890 x 52 cm, courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery
b. 1981 Inner Mongolia, lives and works in Hangzhou
Cheng Ran’s video works frequently lack for complete emotional states and narrative threads, focusing instead on tiny moments in daily life, and emphasizing personal emotion through its formation and transmission. Existence Without Air, Food, or Water takes its inspiration from some diaries that fell into Cheng Ran’s hands. He chose to turn certain excerpts on time and memory into videos, describing a mental state devoid of material considerations.
Exhibiting artwork : Cheng Ran, Existence Without Air, Food or Water, 2013, single-channel video, 10’45″
b. 1982 Anhui province, lives and works in Beijing, co-founder of Second Floor Publishing
Through his research into early Chinese photography, Ge Lei exposes the intricate relationship between photographic transmission and the onset of capitalism. Beginning in the late 1850s, from coastal areas to the hinterlands, photo studios were established in parallel with the expansion of the treaty ports, as China was thoroughly and forcefully pried open by Western powers through the 1890s. Photography in China (1850s-1890s) is a conceptual presentation of this process in the form of a museum display.
Exhibiting artwork : Ge Lei, Photography in China (1850s-1890s)，2012, albumen-print carte de visite, elm showcase, acrylic, mirror carrier, 96 x 136 x 48 cm x 3 pieces
Urban-Rural Fringe Group
Founded in 2012
b. 1978 Hubei province, lives and works in Wuhan
b. 1974 Guangdong province, lives and works in Dongguan, Guangdong Province
The Urban-Rural Fringe Group, composed of artists Gong Jian and Li Jinghu, takes the areas where China’s cities end and countryside begins as an imagined realm where anything is possible and the arbitrary reigns. In opposition to both the order of the city and the natural state of the countryside, the urban-rural fringe displays a radical mix of clamor, chaos, squalor, and disorder.
Exhibiting artwork : Gong Jian, Li Jinghu (Urban-Rural Fringe Group), Urban-Rural Fringe Group Prologue, 2012, fabric strips, resin, iron nail, acrylic on wood, dimensions variable
b. 1986 Liaoning province, lives and works in Beijing
He Xiangyu’s installations show a passion for excavating the world of symbols alongside an efficiency in returning to the world of surfaces. His works at once emphasize the experience of life even as they observe and intervene in the world as it appears. Tank Project continues He Xiangyu’s attitude toward action, articulating a truth that goes far beyond pure material form.
Exhibiting artwork : He Xiangyu, Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 450 x 150 cm
b. 1983 Leizhou, Guangdong province, lives and works in Beijing, co-founder of Observation Society
In his Xiangqian Museum of Art series, Hu Xiangqian conceived a non-material existence for his art works, resulting in a recorded event of flesh, language, and image—an object existing only in the consciousness of the artist and the viewer. Hu Xiangqian’s Solo Exhibition for the Xiangqian Museum of Art entails a third person re-enacting Hu Xiangqian’s earlier performance, in a repetitive process that reduces the work to its most abstract state.
Exhibiting artwork : Hu Xiangqian, Hu Xiangqian’s Solo Exhibition for the Xiangqian Museum of Art, 2012, HD video, 15’00″
b. 1977 Yuanjiang, Hunan province, lives and works in Beijing and Hangzhou
Jiang Pengyi’s photography turns on fantastic visual spectacles introduced through pre- and post-production manipulation, displaying a sort of existential comprehension and imagination intrinsic to photography and image. In the series Everything Illuminates, phosphorescent powder transforms the appearance of everyday objects, and the light trails emitted by these objects endow them with a non-objective self-contentedness.
Exhibiting artwork : Jiang Pengyi, Everything Illuminates No. 9, 2012, archival inkjet print, 251 x 180 cm, Jiang Pengyi, Everything Illuminates No. 10, 2012, archival inkjet print, 251 x 180 cm
b. 1983 Jilin province, lives and works in Yiwu, Zhejiang province
Death is an omnipresent topic in Lee Fuchun’s work. He not only employs bones, which he sees as evidence of death, but from the perspective of a survivor explores the “secrets” obscured by death as incident. Lee Fuchun’s ongoing “B2B2C” project has realized on the globalized platforms of electronic commerce, whereby he packages cheap Chinese goods together with extreme reminders of Chinese reality and sends them onward to the rest of the world.
Exhibiting artwork : Lee Fuchun, B2B2C, 2010-2012, mixed media, dimensions variable
b. 1982 Hubei province, lives and works in Shenzhen
Li Liao’s art is based on experiments with social systems that use his own person as the key subject. He often actively mixes himself into fraught situations or intentionally upsets customs in order to bring about new recognitions. In Consumption, Li Liao entered the work force at the famed electronics producer Foxconn, then used his wages to purchase the same iPad Mini he was assembling on the factory line. In this way he frames a clear and revelatory relation between production and consumption.
Exhibiting artwork : Li Liao, Consumption, 2012, performance, ready-made materials, dimensions variable
b. 1986 Hunan province, lives and works in Hangzhou
Li Ming’s video practice is not entirely the product of rational thought, but rather a mixture of subtle perceptions. He frequently appears in his own works, showing an extraordinary facility for using his own body in the making of art. In the group of works shown here, Li Ming’s actions are the string of logic that runs throughout, like a fuse, creating contradictions and letting their effects ferment and, sometimes, totally overcome their real environments.
Exhibiting artwork : Li Ming, Nothing Happened Today – No. 2, 2012, 4-channel video, 24’12″ / 15’26″ / 04’37″ / 06’35″, Li Ming, Nothing Happened Today – No. 3, 2012, sound installation, 7.5 x 2.5 x 5.5 cm x 17 pieces, Li Ming, Snowball, 2008, video, 14’27″, Li Ming, Nature- 3, 2011, 3-channel video, 04’59″, Li Ming, Impediment Tide – Video 6, 2009, 6-channel video, 11’53″
b. 1986 Hubei province, lives and works in Beijing
Li Ran frequently casts himself as the singer in a dubbed music video, utilizing strange and unnatural accompaniments to soundtracks as a way of hinting at a certain discomfort in our cultural experience. In Born Again, this “Li Ran” appears on different screens teaching various exotic musical techniques. In these imitations of fast, flat entertainment, a distinct cultural pathology is revealed.
Exhibiting artwork : Li Ran, Born Again, 2012, single-channel video, 05’30″
b. 1978 Hubei province, lives and works in Beijing
Liu Chuang’s recent works are mainly based on simple physical relationships, which emphasize the material basis of all art making. From these, Liu Chuang attempts to develop a passive method of creation, one which damages nothing and allows rules to proliferate. Untitled (Midnight Flight) comprises a round pipe with a series of walls surrounding it to form a rectangular body containing a space which is at once united and divided.
Exhibiting artwork : Liu Chuang, Untitled (Midnight Flight), 2013, aluminum, 750 x 285 x 280 cm, with support from Tang Contemporary Art Center
b. 1984 Shanghai, lives and works in Shanghai
Lu Yang’s work touches on medicine, technology, religion, psychology, and popular culture, and entails collaborations with engineers, experimental musicians, and psychoanalysts. She frequently uses the form of the music video to package and transmit her ideas, which often spark moral debates as they touch on darker sides of reality. UterusMan will be an ongoing project based in popular culture, appearing for the first time in this exhibition in the form of a theatrical trailer.
Exhibiting artwork : Lu Yang, UterusMan OP, 2013, animation, music by SQUARELOUD (IDMONN x TUNELEE), Lu Yang, UterusMan Posters, 2013, digital print, dimensions variable. Original design and layout by the artist, drawing by hhuuaazzii
b. 1977 Heilongjiang province, lives and works in Beijing
Qiu Xiaofei’s painterly practice has evolved from a thematic consideration of the temporal nature of objects to a formal expression of the consciousness which lies behind these objects. It takes the ontological nature of painting as medium as a basis for formal practice. Recurring is a group of paintings construed as an installation in which wood appears repeatedly, becoming a visual thread tying together the artist’s thought process and signaling the depth of consciousness and its non-linear relation with artistic practice.
Exhibiting artwork : Qiu Xiaofei, Recurring, 2012, oil on canvas, 300 x 400 cm, courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery, Qiu Xiaofei, Recurring, 2012, oil on canvas, 100 x 120 cm, courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery, Qiu Xiaofei, Recurring, 2012, oil on canvas, wood, 141 x 100 x 46 cm, courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery, Qiu Xiaofei, Recurring, 2012, oil on canvas, wood, metal, 30 x 20 cm, 400 x 8 cm, 12 x 12 x 12 cm (metal head), courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery
b. 1981 Shenyang, lives and works in Shenyang
Song Yuanyuan’s paintings employ an unruly style to depict dull scenes heavy with ambiguity. His work is crowded full of ornamentation, blocked sight lines, displaced spaces, trivial brushstrokes, redundant pigments, and cumbersome borders. These paintings’ dense visual fields allow viewers to extract themselves from unified experience and enter into a more physical perception of visual existence.
Exhibiting artwork : Song Yuanyuan, Las Vegas, 2012, oil on canvas, 340 x 250 cm, Song Yuanyuan, Public Area, 2012, oil on canvas, 250 x 180 cm
b. 1979 Wuhan, lives and works in Beijing
Wang Sishun’s works urge viewers to reconsider orders and rules. Uncertain Capital is his discussion that has been ongoing for many years, beginning in 2009 when he decided to melt coins down and recast them as a metal cube. He then took the money earned from the sale of the work, turned it into coins, and recast them into another, larger cube in a cycle that continues here.
Exhibiting artwork : Wang Sishun, Uncertain Capital, 2009, coins, courtesy of SO YOUNG COLLECTION
b. 1979 Harbin, lives and works in Beijing
Wang Yuyang incorporates different technological media into his ontological speculations. The Narrative of a Stack of Paper includes 901 sheets of handmade paper which together recount the complete process of their own fabrication, including tree-felling, debarking, soaking, slurrying, boiling, bleaching, starching, extracting, pressing, and drying. In this way the traditional and quotidian medium of paper becomes the object of the narrative as well as the narrative itself.
Exhibiting artwork : Wang Yuyang, The Narrative of a Stack of Paper, 2012, installation, 15,136,728 images from a 10，511’37″ documentary, mulberry paper, metal plate, steel pipe, magnet, 484 × 1078 × 5 cm (55 x 55 cm each), with support from Tang Contemporary Art Center
b. 1978 Jiangsu, lives and works in Beijing, member of GUEST
Xu Qu’s recent artistic practice uses direct action and directly perceptive forms to manifest the divergent truths that surround major world questions. It’s Not a Matter of Time brings with it a series of interconnected and contradictory situations, creating in the exhibition space a new temporality that lies beyond the museum in an attempt to bring the viewers out of their accustomed value system.
Exhibiting artwork : Xu Qu, It’s Not a Matter of Time, 2012-2013, black marble pedestal, coffee cup, plaster sculpture, stainless steel installation, bucket of purified water, fire axe, knife, 2 staff workers, dimensions variable
b. 1986 Chongqing, lives and works in Beijing, founder and participant of the Company project
The body, a keyword in Yan Xing’s practice, is both an object of the gaze and the subject of performative action. The question of how to unite these two sides has given direction to Yan Xing’s recent work. The scene staged in Arty, Super-Arty comes from Edward Hopper’s masterpiece Nighthawks, which Yan Xing has incorporated into the context of lived reality through this appropriation of the art system and art history.
Exhibiting artwork : Yan Xing, Arty, Super-Arty, 2013, single-channel HD video, 09’16″, courtesy of Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne
b. 1982 Fujian province, lives and works in Beijing and Nanjing
Yang Jian’s work gives voice to a theatrical sense of humor, casting a backward glance at modern systems which, once rational, now seem ossified. Sooner or Later, Lightning Will Strike Us All is an exploration of power and the people it restrains; the disorder and chaos it reveals hint at an unavoidable negativity emerging from immediate consumption.
Exhibiting artwork : Yang Jian, Sooner or Later, Lightning Will Strike Us All, 2011-2012, video installation, single-channel HD video, 08’46″
b. 1980 Hunan province, lives and works in Beijing
Yang Xinguang’s works primarily use wood, stone, metal, and other materials to emphasize the chance connections between human and material forms, and to give visual form to social anxieties. In Hello, Yang Xinguang anthropomorphizes two wooden rods which, in retaining traces of having undergone manual, labor-intensive processes and symbolizing impoverishment, hint at some of the unfair relations behind the process of globalization.
Exhibiting artwork : Yang Xinguang, Hello, 2012, branches, styrofoam, 180 x 30 x 30 cm, 175 x 30 x 30 cm, courtesy of Boers-Li Gallery
b. 1980 Gansu province, lives and works in Shanghai
Zhang Ding’s work plays on ideas of sensory perception and will, constructing absurd scenes full of contrast. Control Club is both a tower-shaped stage—built entirely from speakers—and a reactive sound installation. In the compulsive frenzy brought on by this monumental stage, a world driven to chaos by excessive control is made manifest.
Exhibiting artwork : Zhang Ding, Control Club, 2013, high density board, metal support, speaker, bronze bell, power amplifier, sound console, frequency divider, telephone, wires, 500 cm x 500 cm x 490 cm, 50 cm x 52 cm x 120 cm, 50 cm x 125.5 cm x 100 cm
b. 1980 Shandong province, lives and works in Hangzhou
Zhang Liaoyuan’s work marshals visual technologies to explore the visual structure and visual phenomenon of contemporary society. Light Changed by Image is a space that automatically modulates light levels based on RGB image data. He abstracts a film into three continuously changing data streams, then directly converts these into the opening angles of blinds on three windows, thus continuously changing the light levels inside the space.
Exhibiting artwork : Zhang Liaoyuan, Light Changed by Image, 2012, installation, dimensions variable
b. 1981 Sichuan province, lives and works in Beijing, member of GUEST
Zhao Yao’s recent artistic practice tends to stem from questions about the nature of the exhibition system itself, allowing for a form of creation that is also intellectual argument. Expectations of Form is a project based on this particular exhibition, in which all the trash and debris produced while installing ON | OFF is collected by a designated recycling company and displayed. In this way, Zhao Yao puts this essential but normally invisible part of the exhibition into the public eye.
Exhibiting artwork : Zhao Yao, Expectations of Form, 2013, performance, installation, dimensions variable
b. 1982 Xinjiang Autonomous Region, lives and works in Beijing
Zhao Zhao uses art to challenge reality and the ideological traditions on which it is based. The radical, even anarchist tendencies displayed in his work come from his emphasis on individual free will. Repetition is a cube composed of smaller cubes of stone cut from dilapidated ancient Buddha sculptures. Zhao Zhao attempts, from the perspective of commodity fetishism, to meditate on the question of religious belief.
Exhibiting artwork : Zhao Zhao, Repetition, 2012, white marble, limestone, 150 x 150 cm
b. 1976 Hunan province, lives and works in Guangzhou
Zhou Tao’s video work lives in the cracks and on the peripheries of life in China’s southern metropolises, running on a slow tempo and rhizomatic structure. Collector is his most representative work, in which floundering documentation, improvised performance and editing, and a specially constructed viewing space together allow the viewer to enter into the atmosphere of natural growth it describes.
Exhibiting artwork : Zhou Tao, Collector, 2012, video installation, single-channel HD video, 18’37″
b. 1980 Liaoning province, lives and works in Beijing
Sun Xun’s animations have consistently explored questions of time and history, modernity and revolution, and real politics set against utopian dreams. He casts doubt on an external system of references through the rote repetition of forms and elements, interrogating the human collective—in all its mutability and fragility—by looking across the coordinates of politics and history. This exhibition showcases eight of Sun Xun’s animations in regular screenings.
Exhibiting artwork : Sun Xun, 21 g, 2010, animation, 27’00″, Sun Xun, Beyond-ism, 2010, animation, 08’08″, Sun Xun, Clown’s Revolution, 2010, animation, 10’08″, Sun Xun, Coal Spell, 2008, animation, 07’56″, Sun Xun, Heroes No Longer, 2008, animation, 09’04″, Sun Xun, Lie, 2006, animation, 07’20″, Sun Xun, Shock of Time, 2006, animation, 05’29″, Sun Xun, Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet in the Revolution, 2011, animation, 12’22″
- CURATORSBao Dong,Sun Dongdong
Bao Dong (b. 1979, Anhui province) is an art critic and independent curator. He graduated from the Sichuan Fine Arts Academy in 2006 with an M.A. in Art History and has curated exhibitions for a wide range of art organizations since 2005. In contributing essays to the artistic dialogue and other forms of involvement, Bao has established himself as a leading curator and critic of work by the “new generation.”
Sun Dongdong(b. 1977, Nanjing) is senior editor at LEAP magazine, where he has worked since the magazine’s founding in 2010. He received his M.F.A. from the Nanjing Academy of Art in 2005. Since 2001, Sun has been involved with contemporary art exhibitions, worked as a critic, and curated shows at the Nanjing Sifang Contemporary Art Museum and the Iberia Center of Contemporary Art in Beijing.
ON | OFF will be accompanied by two publications:
ON | OFF: Collective Practice in China 2002-2012 is an anthology of essays offering a comprehensive overview of creative collaborative practice in China over the past decade. Texts provided by ON | OFF curators Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong, UCCA curator Paula Tsai, and critic Guo Juan. Published in Chinese only, to be released with the opening of ON | OFF.
ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice is a complete, bilingual exhibition catalogue featuring in-depth introductions to each artist, forming an extensive document of a new generation. Available March 1.
Both books are co-published by UCCA with Hinabook and the World Publishing Company, Beijing. Both publications will be distributed in China and internationally, and will be available at the UCCA bookstore.
UCCA is honored to announce LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton as the Lead Sponsor of ON | OFF. As a supporter of the 2009 UCCA exhibition “Breaking Forecast: 8 Key Figures of China’s New Generation Artists” and other exhibitions during the past few years, LVMH has a long history of supporting UCCA in its presentation and promotion of China’s young artists.
Exhibition publications are generously supported by the H2 Foundation for Arts and Education Limited and Hallam Chow. Additional support is provided by the UCCA Patrons Council.