The Theme Exhibition of the 4th Guangzhou Triennial

We are thrilled to bring you a review of The Theme Exhibition of the 4th Guangzhou Triennial from our partner ArtSpy, a website based in Beijing, P.R.China that is committed to establishing a platform for global artistic information. This article was originally written for ArtSpy and has been translated exclusively for DailyServing.

Michael Craig-Martin, An Oak Tree, assorted objects and printed text under glass, glass on shelf. 15 × 46 × 14 cm. 1973. Collection: National Gallery of Australia.

About the theme, as curator Jiang Jiehong said, “The Unseen is the main framework for this themed exhibition, and not a topic that it needs to revolve around. Under limited visual experience, projecting expectations that would exceed natural perceptive experience”

This themed exhibition is made up of three sections – with Guangdong Museum of Art as the main venue together with special project “Grandview Project” and the performances at the Guangzhou Opera House. The main venue is a traditional exhibition venue, every piece of work is a sense, “observing” some kind of explanation and illumination around the theme, the space seem to be in a temperate manner, contrived.

Jonathan Schipper, Slow Motion Car Crash, installation. Dimensions variable. 2006.

Giovanni Anselmo, For an Incision in an Indefinite Number of Thousands of Years, iron, rust preventive, wall inscription. 1969.

The Grandview Mall is a large general shopping center that everyone in Guangzhou is familiar with. All works presented do not have any description or label, “lurking” in the public spaces, which once again, highlight the issue of which is between the artist and the audience, between art and the public space.

Below are some thoughts expressed by the general public.

Passerby 1 - Middle-aged female customer: No, no idea what that is, don’t feel much about it.

Passerby 2 - Young male customer: (Next to Date and Left Right Left) why is there so many of these February 28th? And these lights. Is it meant to turn this place into some sort of city landscape? This is a theme, right? (Blushes) And so it can’t leave. The city itself is a work of art. (If you weren’t told that this is a work of art) I think it’s cool. (About this lurking display) Also quite good, but you must really pay attention.

TOF Group, Aiolos, interactive installation. 2012.

Passerby 3 – general media worker: (facing Aiolos) This must be some kind of sales technique. I don’t think it’s art, I’ve done something like this in the studio. Some much absurdity in contemporary art, if the message is too clear it wouldn’t be contemporary art.

Passerby 4 – McDonalds employee: (About I’m lovin’ It) I’m sorry, we can’t answer your questions.

Passerby 5 – Male customer: (Real Estate 24-hour Elevator Scence) To see this in this kind of busy city is rare, very calming, contemporary. Not that I really understand it, it’s just a feeling I guess.

Passerby 6 – Female customer: I like it a lot, to see something new. I will pay attention, would like to look for similar kind of works. It’s elegant here, the only thing that I don’t really like is that there’re too many McDonald signs. The 2013 next to that is way too big, doesn’t look good in photos. What are your thoughts behind the theme? It should really stand out in the crowd, “The Unseen” shouldn’t be so eye-catching.

Passerby 7 – Female: (Near Never Forever) I saw this and I thought it’s a sign from the installation, probably got something to with how insensitive I am with this kind of things, it honestly didn’t cross my mind that it was a work of art.

Passerby 8 – Student of journalism: Don’t ask me, I don’t get this sort of thing.

Passerby 9 – Young shopkeeper: Is it that McDonalds is going out of business on February 28th 2013? It looks like an ad, but not really, many customers asked me about it. Can’t really imagine it being an art work… If I weren’t an employee here and I see this sign outside the mall I’d come in to check it out as well, but I wouldn’t know where to ask about it.

Passerby 10 – Worker in the mall: (Facing Throwing Exercise, Turning and Property) That guy throwing over there is so stupid. I think that bike looks like an art work, looks like its about to burst out, I really want to yank it down and ride off with it. It’s interesting that they’d appear here. I’d like to look around for the others in the mall, but I’ve got to go to work, if it’s art I guess I’ll spend more time looking.

Passerby 11 – Cleaner: This is a prop for taking photos isn’t it.

MadeIn Company, Safe House, installation. Dimensions variable. 2012.

Passerby 12 – (Next to Safe House) Toy isn’t it? An Event in the mall? Don’t think it’s art.

It is apparent that art works at the venue have faded into the environment by going unnoticed. Especially in an environment where concentration is rapidly shifted, the “borderline” is hard to grasp, there is a sense of uncertainty and doubt, which again draws us back to the An Oak Tree – “What precisely is the artwork? That glass of water?”

As a journalist, a writer who communicates with the audience, being a communicative media, has inevitably become part of the exhibition.

John Cage, 4' 33'', Played by Du Yun.

The Guangdong Opera House is the venue focused on performance. There was a one-off performance on the second day of the opening ceremony especially for the guests and media. In the first scene, artist Du Yun reenacted John Cage’s 4’33”, just as the title of the “song” implies, she sat in silence for 4 minutes and 33 seconds; “performed” Katie Paterson’s Earth-Moon-Earth on the piano, echoing the gramophone that the artist had placed in the main exhibition hall. The performance of Run by Du Yun and Claire Chase is emotionally charged, powerful. The work by artist group TASHWEESH of “the temporary resonating spaces related to spatial politics, subjectivity, narrative and reality, imagination and memories” is vivid, accompanied by an intense soundtrack and lasted for 40 minutes. Boikutt’s soft singing on the side makes this piece of work seem even more organic, rich and more imbued with the environment.