imPOSSIBLE! 8 Chinese Artists Engage Absurdity

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© Courtesy of San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
imPOSSIBLE! 8 Chinese Artists Engage Absurdity

401 Van Ness Ave. (at McAllister)
San Francisco, CA 94102
February 13th, 2009 - April 18th, 2009
Opening: February 20th, 2009 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Union Square/Civic Center
Tue-Sat 11-6
photography, video-art


The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery and MISSION 17 present imPOSSIBLE!; an exhibition in two locations featuring eight renowned Chinese artists who engage absurdity and theatricality in video and photographic works that respond to recent socio-political and economic circumstances in China. In addition, the SFAC Gallery and M17 have created a series of events to support this groundbreaking exhibition and have partnered with the San Francisco Chinese Cultural Center in order to present an evening screening of longer video works by participating artists.

In 2007 San Francisco-based artist Michael Zheng organized a group of Chinese artists, six currently based in China as well as two artists who emigrated West around the time of the Tiananmen Square incident. They first met in Beijing, and later on in Shanghai, to discuss both the common threads in their work and how their various points of view, when assembled, might create an exhibition that would reveal distinct perspectives on contemporary Chinese art and life.

Zheng, a primary coordinator of this exhibition, recounts, “We reflected on recent developments in Chinese history and how they have created a social reality that is changing at a dizzying pace. The current economic boom has inspired a euphoria that fills Chinese citizens with hope, and everybody seems to be madly rushing to some grand vision of success, however illusive this success might be. The large population and exponential need for better systems of transportation has created an impossible daily traffic deadlock. The extreme polarity created by the early successes of capitalist experiments; the absolute corruption that leaves most people gasping for air; the inundation of media, the non-stop all encompassing noise created by traffic—all seem to be driving everybody to the edge. How have we, as Chinese artists, responded to such rapid and dramatic changes?”

The artists in imPOSSIBLE! engage strategies that include using humor that is slightly dark and often times ironic that create absurd or impossible scenarios, and confront highly exaggerated aesthetic and conceptual sensibilities. In a situation where radical change becomes an everyday experience, the artists found that by engaging these strategies they were able to create works that reconcile the past with the present and highlight the pace of contemporary life in China. Biographical information about each artist is available.


Mission 17 Reception, Friday, February 13, 6 – 8pm
Artists Exhibiting at MISSION 17:
Yang Zhenzhong (Shanghai) and Shi Yong (Shanghai)