Venue: China Central Academy of Fine Arts (中央美术学院)
Kind of Light review: recommended
A bit apart from the crowded center of Beijing but still easier to reach than the far-away Caochangdi, is a great art center of the capital: China Central Academy of Fine Arts (中英美术学院). Talk a walk between the impressive and beautiful Bauhaus buildings of the campus, have a look at the sometimes absurd sculptures spread across the garden, watch the students playing basket-ball and maybe grab a bite at the wonderful restaurant hidden above the university’s canteen.
And when you’re done with all of that, head over to the museum area, most particularly toward the ongoing biennale exhibition.
As I went through the various exhibitions of the biennale, I was intrigued and interested by the “The Code of The Golden Bough-Economics of Witchcraft” exhibition, curated by Hu Dangjie and dealing with money in all its forms. An interesting inventory of various forms of alternative currencies enables us to learn more from bitcoins to “0 rupee” bills issued in India to fight corruption.
Further in the exhibition, we can find the “Game Theory” area, a large space looking like a gigantic warehouse and filled with many absurd interactive artworks. They are eclectic, maybe to the point of creating confusion as to what is the purpose of this part of this exhibition: old typewriters, performance art featuring a boy falling from his chair and a cute “library of artworks title” where each visitor can pick a name of artwork from the library and replace it with one of his choice.
We were mostly interested by the “No Puppet Is Dumber Than Its Puppeteer” section of the exhibition, curated by Kit Hammonds, Olga Fernandez-Lopez, Yung Ma and November Paynter. Their selection leads the viewer to reconsider the way they interpret reality and the way it is orchestrated, including in the context of the museum.
Taiwanese artist Yu Cheng-Ta uses a very simple device to make us think about the way we approach information, internalize it and transmit it. The artist stands behind people who repeat what he says, sentence after sentence. The choice of protagonists including many foreigners who can barely speak mandarin gives a very unnerving feeling to the scene: it is clear that most of them don’t understand the words which are put in the mouth, often mispronouncing them in a way which is almost comical. The participants are also unconsciously taking a voice which sounds almost robotic as they repeat the sentences.
Yva Jung’s work takes the reflexion closer to the very notion of art: she documented the “adventures” of a suitcase that accompanied her and acted over time as an artwork and a portable exhibition. In this specific sequence, she spills the artworks contained in the suitcase on the ground and observes the reaction of the audience. Both absurd, amusing and a bit awkward, her experimental approach focuses more on the behavior of participants when exposed to the artwork than on the artwork itself.
These are only a handful of the artworks featured in the biennale. For all of these and for the nice escape which is a walk around CAFA, we recommend this exhibition.Details