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Archive for the ‘Slow art’ Category

V+A museum-commissioned photography show The Mother of All Journeys lands in Hong Kong – interview Dinu Li

Posted by artradar on October 7, 2009


BRITISH-CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY

Dinu Li, an award-winning British-Chinese visual artist, showcases his exhibition The Mother of All Journeys at Amelia Johnson Contemporary (17 Sep – 31 Oct 2009) in Hong Kong. Initially commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the exhibition is a collection of the artist’s family snapshots which traces the journey taken by the family when they emigrated from Guangdong to Hong Kong and finally to England. Dinu Li speaks to Wendy Ma about the reasons and emotions behind this collaboration with his mother as well as his fascination with time and space.

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

Q: You have had an interesting life.  Which photographs capture your most memorable experiences?

This project is about memories. The one that really captures my experiences is the picture of the first house we lived in when we emigrated from Hong Kong to UK in 1973 when I was 7 years old. As I took this photograph in 2004, there was a distance of 30 years between living there and taking the photograph. We lived there for only 1 year. We don’t know who has been sitting there since. Strange that after 33 years, they have kept the same carpet, wallpaper, and cabinet in the bedroom. Now it’s rented to students.

Q: What inspired you to collaborate with your 80-year-old mother on this artwork? Is your mother an artist, too?

When I was a young boy, she was always telling me her story, and I used to create imaginary images in my head. I always wanted to see the real landscape and not rely on my imagination, so that I could understand where the memories come from and make a comparison between fantasy and reality.

No, my mother’s not an artist. Her job was to identify the place. I also have 6 brothers and sisters in the fields of engineering and catering.

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

Q: Was there a gap between the reality and your imagination?

She had a memory about hiding behind a tree during Japanese invasion of China. I imagined a tree in a dense forest, where she would hide. But it was just a tree on the hill, which meant that she was desperate to find anywhere to hide. In that sense it was very powerful.

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

Q: What are your images trying to narrate other than the past?

Duality. When you step into a place, there is a duality between what is personal and universal. The photograph is not just about our own experiences, but others’ as well. In the process of unearthing our personal history, there are other histories in that very space. You’re sitting here on the sofa now, so you have a history here. If I come back here tomorrow to take a photograph, I have to understand that someone else sat there and has his own history. The project is multi-layered.

Past is all around us, even in the modern city of Hong Kong. Past is only one second ago, not far away. I’m deeply interested in the concept of time and space, and photography is the perfect medium that deals with this. With photography, you play with time by speeding it up, slowing it down, or freezing it still. You’re empowered with the control to manipulate time.

Roland Bathes, a philosopher, called this a subconscious fear of death. Not that we think about it all the time, but the notion that there’s limited time prompt those to use films, photographs, and videos in the endeavor to understand what time and space are.

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, 2007

Q: What feelings or revelations surfaced while exploring the sites of your mother’s past?

Sometimes you go somewhere, you rediscover something you’ve not been thinking about for a long time, and all the memories reappear. When you visit a place, certain aspects trigger your memory. It can be the shape of light, the way it falls, the circular pattern it makes. Now in front of us there’s a shadow cast on the wall, if you revisit that place in 20 years, the pattern will reappear as long as the light is still standing there.

Q: How is the joint creation of art different from solo efforts in your other creations?

A lot of my work has some sort of links – people’s identities, their history and memories. I look at other people’s archive and their personal histories. Even though it’s personal, it’s also public. There’s a different type of duality between personal and public. Their existences are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes my mother’s history is not unique, but shared. For instance, many people have been in love or have been sick.

Dinu Li standing next to his artwork

Dinu Li standing next to his artwork

Q: In what ways has Mother of All Journeys affected other projects of yours?

Family Village and all my new projects – come from Mother of All Journeys. In 2005, a British architect had sent a Christmas card to his Sichuan friend, also an architect, who decided to build the town illustrated on the card in Chengdu. That inspired me and led me to question the authenticity of that place.  In terms of features, the Chengdu town has similar tile, roofs, and chimney shape.  The differences are the local materials and the fact the population in China is bigger, the houses are also taller and bigger.

Moreover, the new town in Chendu brings the authenticity of culture into question. While I was there working, the security guard tried to stop me, “How do I know you’re not a British architect who came to copy our style” Apparently, he was oblivious to the origin of the building. Often we claim that something belongs to us, such as fish and chips just because they’ve been in the UK for such a long period. In fact, chips are French and fish are Dutch.  So it’s interesting to find out where things come from.

For the Family Village project, I scanned a particular 1950’s cartoon book and retold a narrative about a hero boy who intercepted the Japanese soldiers. My adaptation of the story is about a boy on a journey while collecting bamboo. Every time he returns home he finds his home changing. I turned a static original cartoon into a five-minute animation video.

Q: What cultural shocks did you have to overcome as you emigrated from Hong Kong to Manchester? What historical events took place at that time that affected you?

The idea of space – growing up in Hong Kong, we lived in small space. England offered more space. There was more space among people in the metro. The climate – the fog and snow in England.  The sound – the silence in England, as opposed to the noises in Hong Kong.

Since we moved in1973, compared to my parents, I was too young to be affected by historical events. In the 1960’s, people feared that the Cultural Revolution might invade Hong Kong, so those who left China for Hong Kong continued their journey to the West.  

Q: How do you reconcile the cultural and generational differences?

It’s strange. Since my cousins didn’t leave China, there exists a massive cultural difference between them and me.  Having lived in the West, I perceived things from a more objective angle. But for them in that situation, they were so close that they couldn’t see or to understand the 50’s and 60’s.  You had to be further away. That’s why I became an artist.

Q: I read that your father and your mother once made underwear for a factory in Hong Kong. Tell us more about it.

In the 50’s, Hong Kong was like Shenzhen (a manufacturing region in the south of mainland China) now. The westerners established factories in Hong Kong, which at the time was just some island with fisherman.  The exodus of Chinese people to Hong Kong meant they had to start a new life from scratch. Like others, my parents just wanted to get a job in the factories. Now history is repeating itself.

Q: What artwork are you showing at the 53rd Venice Biennale?

Family Village. When you step inside the gallery, you see screens suspended in the middle of the room like a moon, inside which there is a story of a boy watching his home changing all the time as he is picking bamboos.  Inside the video, children are chanting the Chinese translation of a western song from the 1970’s film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Q: During the 4 years of making Mother of All Journey, has anything changed?

Yes.  You start off taking many photographs, and then you keep editing it to make it smaller until you get the core. The most important bit is the real meat of the project. Similar to making a soup, you have to patient and allow time to condense it to the best bit. I can’t just take a photograph and use it immediately. The period of four years allowed me to develop a distance from my photographs and therefore choose wisely. In the last year, I finally reduced the bunch from 300 to 35-40 based on the content.

Q: What was behind your inspiration?

People take things for granted so much that they feel they don’t need to reflect. My mother’s very old, so I must reflect. Mother of All Journeys has inspired others to start similar projects.  It’s a personal project that touches a large audience.

Q: What’s your current project?

I’m doing an artist residency in Shenzhen. I like that it’s on the border of China and Hong Kong. Sometimes my projects are accidental, and other times, to be inspired, I need to be physically in that particular place.

-Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Ancestors, Asian, Chinese, Family, Hong Kong, Migration, Photography, Slow art, Slow/fast art, Space, Time | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lisa Reihana’s electronic Maori art at Anna Landa new media biennial 2009 Australia – video

Posted by artradar on July 9, 2009


NEW ZEALAND DIGITAL ART AUSTRALIA

Combining ancestral culture and slow art with new media

Mâori artist Lisa Reihana (born New Zealand 1964, lives  Auckland) has produced an intriguing and inspiring body of work collectively called Digital marae (2001,2008) which is now on show in Sydney at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the new media biennial, the Anna Landa award.

Reihana by her own admission likes to work slowly so she is giving herself until 2020 to complete this piece which will comprise life size prints of female, male and transgender figures/deities who will be exhibited  between panels of digitally-manipulated patterns taken from 70s textiles and recombined to form Maori patterns.

She believes that there is “far too much stuff” in the world and that each work that she makes must have a strong reason for being.

As well as a fascination with gender, Reihana’s works reference the inclusiveness of the Maori culture in which there is space for everyone.

The marae is an ancestral home for Mâori people, a meeting space and a site for exchange. Her life-size digital prints depict friends and family dressed as male deities (atua) that appear in Mâori creation stories. This Digital marae is a double of the original meeting house, but it is also a transformation.

Lisa Reihana

See the works being hung and listen to Reihana explain how Maori idiom acts as inspiration for her contemporary new media artworks: the surfboard under the feet of Maui, the stream of city lights in the background of Urban warrior, the astronomical imagery in Ranginui and the 19th-century suit in the cross-gendered Dandy.

Video Anna Landa award 2009 Lisa Reihana

See also the excellent 10 minute video made in 2007 for the Elizabeth A. Sackler foundation for Feminist Art in which Reihanna talks about the Mahuika, the fire goddess and other works.

victor_resized

About the Anna Landa Award

Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Domain, Sydney, Australia – 7 May – 19 July 2009

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently exhibiting Double Take, the third Anne Landa Award, which was the first biennial exhibition in Australia for moving image and new media work, with an acquisitive award of $25 000. The award was established in honour of Anne Landa, a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW who died in 2002.

The artists in this year’s exhibition consider what it means to transform the self into another persona – as a doppelgänger, a karaoke performer, an avatar, a robot or a fantasy alter-ego.

  • TV Moore, Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano create private performances on video
  • Lisa Reihana’s digital photographs present friends and family posing as ancestral Mâori spirit figures
  • Mari Velonaki creates robotic avatars
  • Cao Fei and Phil Collins bring together loose collectives of people around a desire to adopt imaginary identities

These performances are not the pure fantasies of popular digital culture, where it is so easy to masquerade as another persona. These artists are more circumspect. Real time lurks within. This is the ‘double’ – because while the performances have a presence in our everyday world, they also take an imaginary guise. They shuttle between two worlds: reality and fantasy.

The exhibition includes video, interactive robotics and digital photography.

Watch curator Victoria Lynn talk on video about Double Take

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Posted in Electronic art, Emerging artists, Museum shows, New Media, New Zealander, Photography, Slow art, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

14 China rim artists show landscapes at opinion-leading Hong Kong gallery Hanart

Posted by artradar on February 9, 2009


Wucius Wong, Water Melody #5, Ink acrylic watercolour

Wucius Wong, Water Melody #5, Ink acrylic watercolour

Zheng Dianxing Moebius 2

Zheng Duanxiang Moebius 2

CHINESE LANDSCAPE SHOW

This show interests us because it points to the classic/contemporary trend in which we see a juxtaposition of  the historic and traditional with the new. Many contemporary Chinese artists are rediscovering the traditional medium of ink and using it in new ways or to depict contemporary concerns. In  this show we see ink used in this way but we also also see an interesting reversal, the classical quintessentially Chinese subject of landscapes is reinterpreted using modern media. The slow art trend – a backlash against fast-paced motion of new media – is here too and this show is a good place to get acquainted with some of the China rim (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) artists who are attracting growing interest.

Landscape Panorama

Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong 25 Feb to 31 March 2009

From the Press Release:

This exhibition features a variety of landscape images created by veteran artists from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Mainland China of diverse media including oil, ink, relief sculpture, lacquer and video works.

As veteran ink painter Wucius Wong has mentioned: “We can make use of this very nature to create a new approach to ink painting by seeking new directions that cut across cultures, across media, and across forms. The shifting paradigm in landscape painting is also seen among younger Chinese painters. For example, Qiu Anxiong has shifted from painting on canvas to classical Chinese ink medium. Feng Mengbo, now a leading figure in contemporary multi-media Chinese art moved the main crux of his creation to computer-generated video sequences. The line of these works, often criticizing the cynicism of computer games and aimed at utilizing their formal procedures, recently ended in a return to painting.

Participating artists:

Arnaldo Acconci
Feng Mengbo
Li Xubai
Leung Kui Ting
Liu Guosong
Lois Conner
Lucia Cheung
Qiu Anxiong
Qiu Shihua
Wang Tiande
Wang Tianliang
Wucius Wong
Yu Peng
Zheng Duanxiang

About Hanart

“This very tiny gallery (in the same building as American Express) has been exhibiting, promoting, and selling experimental art from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan since 1983. ” Frommer’s Review New York Times more

Sources: Hanart

Related categories: Ink, photography, reports from Hong Kong, Chinese artists

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Posted in Gallery shows, Slow art, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia picked as one to watch – Canvas

Posted by artradar on September 24, 2008


Farhad Ahrarnia

Farhad Ahrarnia

EMERGING ARTIST IRAN
Following his recent exhibition ‘Stitched’ in London, Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia is featured by Middle East specialist art magazine Canvas as ‘one to watch’. Born in 1971 in Shiraz, Iran and educated at the Northern Media School Sheffield UK, Ahrarnia divides his time between the two cities and “it is perhaps by being both “here and there” that he is able to reflect on his own identity and look at life as an observer” says Canvas. “For Ahrarnia nothing is quite what it seems and everything merits a closer look”.
Working in a range of media from photography and video to embroidery, Ahrarnia’s choice of technique (craft versus technology) and his subject matter (domestic versus international) are in his own words: “A reflection and testimony to the complexities of contemporary experience rooted in the hybrid, fragmented and diverse Middle Eastern ‘reality’ where tradition and modernity fuse”.
With exhibitions throughout the north of England under his belt, this summer Ahrarnia exhibited his recent work ‘Stitched’ at the Leighton House Museum in London. Featuring images of celebrities and Iranian ex-royalty taken from print and online media, Ahrarnia digitally prints the image onto canvas and then painstakingly embroiders part of the surface with colourful silk threads.
“In doing so” says Canvas “it is the relationship between what lies on the surface and what may lie underneath that piques his interest. Influenced by the ordered and geometric structures of late Mondrian paintings, Iris Murdoch’s novel ‘Under the Net’ and even the philospohical work of Wittgenstein it is the act of pulling thread through fabric that for Ahrarnia pulls hidden meanings from within the images”.
The subjects of his work include US soldiers who have died in Iraq, former empress of Iran Farah Diba Pahlavi and one of Iran’s most legendary women the stage and screen icon Googoosh.
In his brilliant video work ‘Mr Singer’ he responds to the fictional character Seargent Zinger based on a real story of a salesman and spy who sold Singer sewing machines to affluent Iranian families in the 1930s and 1940s meanwhile collecting information on the people and areas he visited.
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Posted in Activist, Celebrity art, Emerging artists, Handicraft art, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Museum shows, New Media, Political, Slow art, Thread, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »