For the past two decades, China has
been passing through a remarkable transformation, one whose full extent
is only now becoming visible. This exhibition, which brings together
130 works by 60 younger artists from mainland China, comprises a host
of highly individual responses to the successive waves of change that
have swept through China’s economic, social, and cultural life.
Since the mid-1990s,
photography and video have increasingly become preferred media among
China’s experimental artists. These works stand out not only
for their brash energy but also for their unusual scope of historical
and cultural reference. The monumental scale, too, favored by many
Chinese artists seems to mirror the unbridled confidence and ambition
that have fueled the changes taking place throughout the nation.
By concentrating on China’s vibrant photo- and video-based art,
this exhibition sets out to explore the surprising complexity of artistic
reflection on the drastic metamorphosis underway in China. The works
are organized within four broad thematic sections—two presented
at ICP, and two at Asia Society:“History and Memory” (Asia
Society); “Reimagining the Body” (Asia Society); “People
and Place” (ICP); and “Performing the Self” (ICP).
Together, the works on view evoke a vivid, if inevitably partial,
impression of the forces that are shaping 21st-century China. In so
doing, they testify to the ways a tumultuous period has been experienced
by some of China’s most inventive younger artists.