Angie Baecker

  • David Crook, Measuring the Land (in Ten Mile Inn in Jinjiluyu Liberated Area, China), 1948, ink-jet print, 20 x 20". From “Rural North China, 1947–1948.”

    “Rural North China, 1947–1948”

    In today’s People’s Republic of China, little is explicitly Communist, save perhaps the Chinese Communist Party itself. The country’s socialist period is rife with thorny, unprobed complexities, a legacy so fraught and out of step with that of today’s economic ascendancy that it is often completely sidestepped in discussions of China’s contemporary economy and culture. Yet even if its influence may not always be evident, the Communist legacy continues to inform the very structure of Chinese society.

    A recent exhibition of photographs from rural northern China in the period between the end of

  • View of “ON | OFF,” 2013.
    picks February 08, 2013

    “ON | OFF”

    “ON | OFF” gathers fifty mainland Chinese artists born after 1976, a watershed year marked in the collective consciousness by Mao’s death and the end of the Cultural Revolution. Similar to the New Museum’s Generational, this vast exhibition aims to survey China’s young artists in concept and practice, and in a definitive fashion. Curators Sun Dongdong and Bao Dong begin with the conceit that young Chinese artists are often overshadowed by qualifiers like “young” and “Chinese,” which pigeonhole the meanings and densities of their work with about as much subtlety as the distinction between “on”

  • Yung Ho Chang and Atelier FCJZ, The Split House, 2002, wooden model, 27 1/2 x 31 1/2 x approx. 22".

    Yung Ho Chang

    When Yung Ho Chang returned to his native Beijing in 1993 after more than a decade of architectural training and practice in the United States, he was confronted by a society in dramatic flux. He found urban conditions and forms of development more easily characterized by absurdity than by habitability—Chen Xitong, for example, the corrupt mayor of Beijing in the 1990s, left a permanent mark on the city by decreeing that all new buildings bear a Chinese-style crown (later dubbed the “Chinese hat”), regardless of structure or design. Chang decided that if absurdity was the new normal, his

  • Chen Wei, Half of the Statue, 2012, archival inkjet print, 59 x 70 9/10”.

    “On | Off”

    Titled after the interface of a virtual private network used to access websites blocked in China, this survey aims to show the ways in which mainland artists born after 1975 address the binaries that permeate their lives and practices: having access to information or being blocked by the Great Firewall, being a dissident or a stooge, being inside or out, on or off. Most of the fifty pieces on display, including works across various media by Bird Head, Chen Yujun and Chen Yufan, Cheng Ran, Guo Hongwei, Huang Ran, Li Ming, Li Shurui, Liang Yuanwei, Qiu Xiaofei,

  •  Jennifer Wen Ma, Hanging Garden in Ink (detail), 2012, 1,500 living plants, Chinese ink, 65' 6" x 26' x 10'.
    slant December 30, 2012

    Angie Baecker

    IN A YEAR OF major political transition across the whole of Asia, contemporary art programming was defined by a trend toward metanarrative. In Taiwan, the 2012 edition of the Taipei Biennial was an intellectually exuberant affair that confronted modernity as a global syndrome while also considering Taiwan’s specific position within it. Curated by Anselm Franke and themed “Modern Monsters / Death and Life of Fiction,” the biennial gave voice to narratives marginalized against the juggernaut of a rising mainland China. Kao Chung-Li’s The Way Station Trilogy, 1987–2012, is a video biography of the

  • A Diaodui, A Project of Talking About After Life, 2012. Performance view, Ullens Center of Contemporary Art. (Photo: Peter Le)
    interviews December 27, 2012

    Paula Tsai

    Paula Tsai is curator of “SEE/SAW: Collective Practice in China Now,” an exhibition on view at the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art until December 30. “SEE/SAW” features fourteen different emerging Chinese collectives that are rotating their work in one-week durations in a dedicated UCCA gallery. The collectives have staged performances, interventions, and mini-exhibitions in the space.

    “SEE/SAW” IS A SERIES OF CONFRONTATIONS. The six-week challenge of showing fourteen collectives in the same space was a rigorous exercise that required continuous dialogue with each group. The idea for the show

  • Kao Chung-Li, The Taste of Human Flesh, 2010–12, image from a slide projection with sound, 15 minutes. From the Taipei Biennial 2012.

    Taipei Biennial 2012

    In The Monster That Is History, literary scholar David Der-wei Wang considers the taowu, an ancient Chinese monster described as “like a tiger with a human face.” This fiendish beast was made all the more ominous by its divinatory ability to see both past and future. Ancients cautioned others to “remember and recount [the taowu’s] wickedness so as to take precaution,” and eventually the taowu came to be seen as the embodiment of history itself. This, Wang argues, makes it an adept metaphor for both the violence of twentieth-century Chinese history and the literature that seeks to depict it.


  • Left: UCCA director Philip Tinari, UCCA founders Myriam Ullens and Guy Ullens, and UCCA CEO May Xue. Right: A bodybuilder performs at the gala for the fifth anniversary of the UCCA. (All photos: Yangzi)
    diary November 26, 2012

    The First Five-Year Plan

    DIVINING HIERARCHY AND POLITICAL WILL from ceremonial detail is an art, and nowhere more so than in China, where the political system is opaque and lives have literally hung in the balance of imperial banquet seating arrangements. So it was the week before last, when Beijing played host to the eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a scripted political circus that saw Xi Jinping—the ultimate compromiser’s compromiser, if you will—succeed Hu Jintao as grand poobah of the realm. China watchers scrutinized the new leadership’s dress and demeanor for the slightest indicators

  • Feng Menbo, M Shot0399, 2012, pigment, acrylic, and archive-grade ink-jet on canvas, 47 1/4 x 29 1/2".
    picks October 17, 2012

    Feng Mengbo

    The title piece of “Not Too Late: Recent Works by Feng Mengbo” is a single-channel video piece accompanied by traditional Chinese music. Its design takes as its starting point the classic multiplayer first-person shooter video game Quake III Arena, but the work employs a Cory Arcangel–esque modification, removing all concrete figural groups from the original and isolating just one element: motion. The resulting video work is made up mostly of black and white arcs of movement that sweep across the projector’s screen and call to mind the abstraction, force, and poetry of Chinese calligraphy. Feng

  • Left: Liu Xiaodong, West,  2012, oil on canvas, 8 x 10”. Right: Liu Xiaodong, South, 2012, oil on canvas, 8 x 10”.
    interviews September 03, 2012

    Liu Xiaodong

    Last May, Liu Xiaodong and a team of assistants traveled to Hotan, a town in the Xinjiang region of China, where he painted monumental portraits of local Uyghur jade miners while a documentarian filmed the entire process. The project is on view at the Xinjiang International Exhibition Center in Urumqi from August 25 to October 8, and will travel to the Today Art Museum in Beijing in early 2013.

    I’D NEVER BEEN TO HOTAN before this trip, but I wanted to go there because I’m interested in its jade production. The Chinese have, of course, prized jade for thousands of years. In the past it was the

  • View of “Hiroshi Sugimoto,” 2012.
    picks June 21, 2012

    Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Hiroshi Sugimoto’s latest exhibition at Pace Beijing is a mini-retrospective of sorts, introducing mainland audiences to the renowned photographer with highlights from six representative series of his works. Sugimoto’s images go long on a highly precise and stylized form derived from different techniques, resulting in large-format works whose outsize scope and vision fills the walls of Pace Beijing’s mammoth Bauhaus-inspired space.

    The show oscillates between Sugimoto’s interest in capturing the trappings of the theatrical (as in his diorama, theater, and wax-figure portrait series), and in

  • Yang Fudong, Close to the Sea, 2004, ten-channel video installation, 23 minutes. Installation view.
    picks May 24, 2012

    Yang Fudong

    ShanghART’s Beijing outpost and the adjacent ARTMIA Gallery have given over their spaces to two of Yang Fudong’s majestic and baffling videos: Close to the Sea, 2004, and Revival of the Snake, 2005. Although the works premiered at the 2004 Liverpool Biennial and in 2006 at the Parasol Unit Foundation, respectively, this occasion marks Yang’s first solo exhibition in Beijing and the debut of the two videos in China.

    Each piece is made up of a ten-screen video installation, with eight monitors lining the darkened walls of the room and one hanging in the middle with projections on either side of