Revolving Stage - Contemporary Video Art in China

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
Thousands of Moon(千月), 2012 Nine Screen Animation 4 Min © Courtesy of ARARIO GALLERY (Cheonan)
Revolving Stage - Contemporary Video Art in China

# 43, Mannam-ro, Dongnam-gu
330-160 Cheonan-si
December 20th, 2012 - February 24th, 2013

Korea, Republic of
+82 41 551 5100
Mon-Sun 11-7


Arario Gallery Cheonan is hosting a group exhibition by Chinese contemporary video artists titled <Revolving Stage: Contemporary Video Art in China>from December 20th 2012 to February 24th 2013. 

Chinese new media art, a new trend that has been a vitalizing force in China’s contemporary art scene, revolts against politically propagandist social realism as well as experimental trends against the commercialization and disconnection of Cynical Realism and Political Pop, which took the lead in Chinese contemporary art after Post ’89.

Especially, the advent of new mediums and rapid advancements in technology have brought forth a wide range of experimental practices, which reflect in-depth observations on China’s tumultuous social reality and culture through newly emergent media. The five artists presented at this exhibition are significant figures in China’s media art, spanning over the first (Wang Gongxin, Wang Jianwei) to second and third generations (Sun Xun, Jiang Pengyi, Wu Junyong) of Chinese video art.

The exhibition Revolving State is a place where various artistic experiments unfold in the field of video art, which has come to the fore in opposition to cultural utilitarianism, and also, where the fluctuating state in China as well as the global community is re-read, re-interpreted and re-constructed across traditions and temporalities. This exhibition will provide the audience with a new understanding of their lives and the world through myriads of video arts that freely cross over time and space.     


Wu Junyong, b.1978

Wu Junyong, a third generation media artist in China, majored in new media arts and print making in China Academy of Art, and is actively producing a wide range of works including traditional prints, video, animation and large scale installations. Wu, who had spent his childhood feeling the gap between the inundation of Western capitalism and the radical political changes in China since the Tiananmen Square Massacre, launches a project of torturing images; a game that imposes masochistic pains on the characters, borrowing from the traditional shadow puppet theater. His characters, who are reminiscent of figures in 16th century Flanders paintings such as works by Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel, wittily parodies China’s transitional status in which the pre-modern social structure (which was seen as the quintessential evil) changes into envy and anxiety towards the Nouveaux Riche.

Wu was first introduced to the Korean art scene at ARCO Art Gallery’s <China Gate> in 2006, and has since participated in numerous group exhibitions at the National Museum of Modern Art, CAFA Art Museum and others. Wu is presenting his new piece ‘Thousands of Moon’ which he first introduced at Shanghai Biennale 2012. Inspired by the phrase “A thousand rivers reflect a thousand moons(千月有水千江月)” from the Buddhist scripture(四世因果录) from the Sung dynasty, this piece is a 9 channel animation painted in Chinese ink. Wu carves out a utopia that remains ever elusive despite the characters’ effort to possess the moon, steeped in melancholia.

Sun Xun, b.1980

Sun Xun was born in China’s Fuxin Province, and majored in print making at China Academy of Fine Arts. He is working on various projects, including a film shoot, at Phi Animation Studio which he found in 2005. His films have been presented at Torino Film Festival and the Oberhausen Short Film Festival. He sketches the daily lives of Chinese people, moving a step away from the Cynical Realism or Political Pop the first and second Chinese artists had resorted to, and establishes a unique framework of a multi-angled inquiry within China’s contemporary art circle.

The piece presented in this exhibition, titled ‘Some actions which haven't been defined yet in the revolution’ describes and objectively examines the lives of ordinary people who wade through the macroscopic paradigms of history and revolution, and the limitations of their cognition system. The artist reinterprets mediums used to produce ancient Buddhist scriptures and the political propaganda materials during the Cultural Revolution period from a contemporary perspective by aligning them with a visual temporality, presenting a series of images comprising wood prints. Sun Xun not only offers an in-depth observation of China’s history and society within the context of here and now, but also visualizes individual systems of cognition learned through the principle of power, fundamentally questioning structuralism.   


Wang Gongxin, b.1960

Wang Gongxin is one of the first generation video artists who gave rise to the media art field by pioneering site-specific video installations in the mid-‘90s. Wang, who spent his early years in Brooklyn(U.S.), began with politically tinted, frank representations of Chinese citizens’ mundane life routines, and gradually moved on towards works that are more aesthetic and abstract. His works wear an aura of surrealism, devoid of specific markers of time or space, and unfurls the artist’s existentialist reflection through a universally appealing and sensitively heightened visual language.

Wang focuses on ‘Basic Color’ which is Red, Yellow, Blue, Black and White. Under the screen that drapes down like a scroll, we see a close-up of a human body part, over which fine pigments of colorings snow down in the five basic colors. These accumulate around and over the irregular curves of the body part, and begin to melt down. The screen stimulates the viewers’ senses with the sound of patterning rain and the vision of pigments flowing down flesh, and gradually draws to a close. The viewers are led to encounter the sensitivity of an artist who lives his days bearing an ambiguous feeling of anxiety in this fast-changing age.


Jiang Pengyi, b.1977

Jiang Penqyi was born in the city of Yuanjiang in the Hunan Province in 1977, and graduated from Beijing Institute of Art and Design in 1999. As a rising star in the new media art field, he is famous for his Unregistered City series, which describes how the streets of Beijing suffer from demolitions and reconstructions due to excessive urbanization in a miniature format. Jiang’s imageries, in which actual cityscapes overlap with fragments of demolished ruins, stirs awake the minute senses we experience amidst the rapid process of urbanization, chaos and confusion, terror, and a sense of nostalgia for all bygone things.

The piece presented at Arario Gallery, titled, ‘Sudden’ was produced with the support of Frac des Pays de la Loire, a residency program in France. The viewers can see how Jiang empties out and focuses the mind to seek out the fundamental self and the origins of all things. The main character, meditating while serenely rowing on a pond in the forest, experiences the state of physical and mental transcendence, becoming one with the cosmos.



Wang Jianwei, b.1958

Wang Jianwei, the leading figure in China’s media art, exposes how the Chinese society has been undergoing a process of deformation since opening its market, in a direct yet dramatic style. His experimental works span over video, stage performance and opera, while seeking the subtle and dynamic interrelation between philosophy and science, art and society. Wang actively pulls in the narrative structure into the realm of art, dramatically expanding the medium of video, in which time and space intermingle. As Wang records stage performances within perfected settings, his works are more vivid and realistic than films that consist of pastiche and dissolves. The screen progresses slowly to a sudden scene in which a naked woman strolls across the stage with a dog; the dog’s barking sound is the signs for scene changes. This method, in which the entire process of editing appears to be unfolding, provides the audience with a three dimensional experience like a revolving stage, exposing the bare innards of curtains rising and falling, and the backstage bustles in preparation for the next acts.