"Beijing: The Second Ring Road", 2005
Video projection, 1h 6min
Curated by Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya
This exhibition is about many things and not all of them within the range of political correctness. It is about how Asia is perceived and constructed, both from within and from the outside. It is about the contemporary challenges we are facing, although these challenges are not unique to Asia. It is about the identity of multiple realities and about the reality of multiple and complex identities.
The exhibition is proposed as a catalytic, discursive device, activated through the artists that are part of this first installment of an improvised project. The narratives included in the show address themes of growth; corruption; memory; history; language; colonialism; and freedom.
Drawing on research in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia, seven artists are included, across video, performance, installation, text and drawing.
Ai Weiwei’s videos document Beijing ring roads, focusing on the ‘process of pure observation and the nature of time…and the urban reality that defines Beijing’. Urban reality versus urban utopia is explained through Michael Lee’s Spiral Supermart, a new project from the series Second-Hand City, where rubbles of collapsed buildings arrive at a futuristic factory in China to be analyzed, resurrected and displayed for resale. Luke Ching Chin-wai and Huang Xiaopeng focus on language, although their research leads them through different concerns from translation software to impromptu Cantonese lessons for Japanese residents.
Dinu Li addresses the problem of Asia with a more direct strategy, through a video performance denouncing corruption, put in context with the inclusion of archival images from Chinese propaganda films. Leung Chi Wo enacts a new performance based on his My Name is Victoria series, which encompasses references to the colonial past of Hong Kong. Tintin Wulia’s installation is a research on the notions of nationality/nation/border through the relationship between citizenship, mobility, and political power, and between territory, mapping and cartography.
This project is conceived as a work-in-progress that is open to other additions and network plug-ins. Australia is a unique location to launch this exhibition, as its multilayered relationship with the idea of Asia provides a cultural framework where the title of the exhibition comes alive.