Art of Change in China

Art-of-Change-ChinaThis is the first major exhibition to focus on contemporary installation and performance art from China. It brings together the work of some of the most innovative artists from the 1980s to today.

“Change, and the acceptance that everything is subject to change, are deeply rooted in Eastern philosophy. The exhibition focuses on works that deal with transformation, instability and discontinuity, looking at how these themes are conveyed through action or materials”.

Art-of-Change-China, Shanzhai

SHANZAI: ORIGINALS AND FAKES panel discussion. “The concept of ‘Shanzai’ in Chinese contemporary art explodes the Western idea of ‘originals’ and ‘fakes’. By stressing the significance of ‘ongoing creation’ – works of art in China are progressively developed from the original and change over time. This event focuses on the work of artists MadeIn Company and Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, and looks at the act of ‘post-creation’ as adding value to a work of art”.

The example of “Blockberry” ad using president Obama is a typical example of Shanzai, which is mocking the fake manufacturing industry and copy culture. It is a bottom-up approach taking the power to circulate imagery and to ultimately change politics. The phenomenon originates from piracy starting about 10 years ago and moving to the art world only recently. Chinese word Shanzai means stealing and running away to the mountains.

The panel discussed how originals and fakes in art has gone through a similar path in West, where during the Renaissance period the art patron, who paid for the work decided the object and even choice of colours. How the masters used assistants to finish paintings, so the idea of originality was different.

There are many examples of West copying East e.g. massproduction of porcelain during industrial revolution. So all in all the evolution is not that different East vs. West.

Massproduction has been so important to China from the ancient times. Public production and its anonymity is supporting thinking that it is always more important what the object is used for instead who made it.

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