Wang Jianwei - Wang Jianwei - Wang Jianwei
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[楼主] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 13:40:03
Wang Jianwei 汪建伟

Born in 1958 in Sichuan, China. Lives and works in Beijing, China.text source: Wang Jianwei's website

Wang Jianwei can only be described as an enigmatic artist. He is arguably one of the three or four most important artists to emerge from China since the Open Door policy of the late 1970's and has built up an extraordinary body of work. Like most contemporary artists in China, Wang began his career as painter, but abandoned that medium in favour of more direct expressive forms.

Wang Jianwei has resisted the enormous pressures that governed many of the first generation of artists practising contemporary art in China. He is an important figure in that, among Chinese artists, he was one of the few who remained concerned with communicating to his own countrymen, regardless of the official obstacles aimed at restricting contemporary expression. It is worth noting that contemporary art in China has only had brief periods of official acceptance. As a result, most of today’s well-known Chinese contemporary artists have built their careers on external international audiences.

The strategies employed by Wang are as fascinating in their conception and planning as they are in their realisation. He is not an artist concerned with expressing "messages" or "truths" to his audience. His work is typified by what appears to be lucky accidents. These accidents are essential to the power of the work, and it is not until one takes a broad overview of his career that the apparently fortuitous can be seen not as chance but as the result of meticulous planning.

One famous untitled early work typifies Wang's approach. In a climate of bans on contemporary art, this piece was supposedly carried out as a community project to restore a statue of Mao. The work involved convincing local officials that a statue of Mao in the city square of Chengdu required cleaning. With local official support in place, the statue was duly scaffolded and work began. The scaffolding, however, was covered in advertisements for western multinational products such as Coca Cola. Eventually, the cleaned and rejuvenated Mao was seen to emerge from the beneath the consumerist trappings of the new China. This work was not acknowledged by Wang Jianwei as a contemporary art piece, but was rather left for those who pondered what they had seen or been involved in to form their own interpretation.

His progression through various expressive forms has led Wang Jainwei to describe himself as a multimedia artist. His current practice consists of combinations of theatre, film and new media. "Ceremony" (2003), a large scale work presented at the Pompidou Centre in Paris last year, was a complex blending of live performance, sound and eerie projected film sequences. His most recent work "Spider" (2004) involved penetrating China's central internet control centre in order to film a performance focusing on the blurred boundaries between perpetrators and victims of systemic control.

In many ways Wang Jainwei's multi-layered avant-gardism demonstrates a characteristically Chinese approach often overlooked by foreign audiences. He belongs to an old tradition of Chinese expression that does not see a separation between art, society, responsibility and progressive thinking.

Binghui Huangfu is Director of the Asia Australia Art Centre in Sydney.

by Binghui Huangfu
Wang Jianwei's biography: click here

For more information about Wang Jianwei, click here:
Wang Janwei's website

[沙发:1楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 13:42:56
Ceremony, installation, 1994

[板凳:2楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 13:48:10
Circulation - Sowing & Harvesting
video 1993-1994

[地板:3楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:14:28
Paravent, video, 2000

text and pictures source: Wang Jianwei's website

The title of your first multimedia theatre work, Ping Feng, 2000, refers to screens. In daily life in China screens are used to divide inner and outer worlds. Reality is in this way divided into the visible and the invisible. What is the invisible in Ping Feng?
In China, screens (ping feng) are widely used in daily life. Whether in public or private spaces, a screen both divides and links a space. As an object, it combines an abstract concept with a tangible physical presence that is instrumental in utilising an interior space. The positioning or placement of a screen within a space results from both the reason for creating a divide between public and private-to block the view of a specific area of the space-and the need to conceal part of a room. At the same time, it serves as the link between the public arena and that portion of space that has been sectioned off. It creates two separate spaces that exist simultaneously within the same time frame. Screens are never used casually, as purely decorative devices. There is a science and a system behind the decision that determines their specific location. In this way, the two notions of division and linkage are made dependent on each other.
In an abstract sense, a screen alludes to a cultural attitude, to the desire to alter a space physically and temporally. The screen is evidence that the physical world can be altered and defined by the desires of men. The nature of that desire is shaped by a specific cultural ideology, which in turn shapes the character of a culture. Thus, it exerts a natural influence on daily life.
Ping Feng originated from the famous scroll painting, The Night Banquet of Han Xizai, by Gu Hongzhong, an artist of the Southern Tang period (943-975). In this painting Gu Hongzhong meticulously describes three individual screens, dividing the traditional scroll format into five separate areas. These areas are both divided from each other and linked via the same divisive screen. The painting was commissioned by the emperor Li Hounzhu-imperial name Li Yang-for political reasons not readily visible in the painting. Gu Hongzhong was asked to spy on the reclusive scholar-official Han Xizai and effectively provide a report on his nightly feasts, both the indulgences and the guests. The act of the painting was merely a guise. The result is a single painting with two very different interpretations. Was Gu Hongzhong an artist or a spy?
The gap between these two roles raised the questions on which Ping Feng is pivoted. In being asked to produce such a painting, Gu Hongzhong was required to enter into the event as a passive guest but an active observer who would ultimately record the facts of the matter for history. The record that the painting provides is not just a chronicle of the lifestyle and appearance of the people and their times, but it also offers a cryptic account of a hidden ulterior motive that hinged around an actual historical plot. The painting is thus a record of the actions of a broader group of people at that time beyond the physical boundary of the painting.
Ping Feng is based on an old chronicle, in contrast to your other works. Your motivation is quite unusual. You described it as: "In the past we used history to talk about today's situation. Now we should use history to doubt history.' Could you explain this?
The screen took its starting point as a series of hypotheses. It supposes that the painting has disappeared; that the emperor commanded an investigation into its disappearance, demanding its return; that in order to validate the facts of the painting, proof was required of the actual existence of the painter Gu Hongzhong.
These suppositions assume that the painting The Night Banquet of Han Xizai presents historical facts. Yet the circumstances under which it was commissioned offer the possibility of re-reading history. Within such a screen, within the relationship between men in an undefined time and place, the performers and the audience, there is no discernable or clear boundary between text or yesteryear and the performance in the present. They intertwine and manipulate each other, being at the same time interdependent and discriminating. They simultaneously define each other.
The sense of uncertainty to which this gives rise further serves to discredit the idea that there is but one absolute reading of history. The theatre that unfolds on stage is but a space where the different interpretations of language and experience clash. History is no longer tied to one image of a specific time. It is made to embrace both the record and all the events surrounding the painted account. It allows for each individual interpretation.
The unfolding of the screen is an anthropological study of history and tradition, a study in reading the self. Wittgenstein said that often the most important facts are obscured by the familiarity of simple things. There is nothing more familiar than reading a historical event that occurred a thousand years ago. But we should not let the familiarity of accepted fact deter us from asking what has been obscured.

[4楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:20:38
video performance, 2003

text and pictures source: Wang Jianwei's website

"Ceremony" (2003), a large scale work presented at the Pompidou Centre in Paris last year, was a complex blending of live performance, sound and eerie projected film sequences

[5楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:30:16
A Flying Bird is Motionless
Wang Jianwei's solo exhibition - 2006


[6楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:34:20
Magic Chinoise-2, 1998

[7楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:40:42
Criteres mouvants
installation, fiberglass

[8楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 14:43:14
Performance, installation

[9楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:15:19

[10楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:21:57
Living elsewhere
video, 140 min, 1999

text and pictures source: Wang Jianwei's website

In China of the Nineties, as a consequence of the economic development, the fast expansion of urban areas and the requisition of enormous quantity of what used to be farmland, peasants start flooding in cities in droves and fight for the limited resources ( space, labor market, identity recognition… ) with the continuously expanding urban population. Following the intensification of the fighting, a specific way of living and therefore a new cultural and living environment are born. This documentary is shot in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province China. Along the newly constructed expressway to the airport, there is a group of villas built at the inception of the Nineties and left uncompleted for almost seven years. There, a marginal area between the city and the country, a group of four peasants from different parts of China gather together, They live in this “cave”-a result of the bubble economy, facing on one hand the harshness of being jobless due to the lose of the farmland and on another hand the urge to find a new position in this totally alienated space far from home. In this completely isolated situation, they have to start their new life…
March, 1999

[11楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:24:35

photography and sound

[12楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:26:53
video, 2003

[13楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:35:58

Dilemma-three Way of Fork in the Road
Video, 9'59'', 2007

[14楼] art-pa-pa 2009-04-14 15:41:31
Performance directed by Wang Jianwei for the Zhang Jiang High-Tech Park
event in 2006. Photo by Xuyang