Du Keke

  • slant March 27, 2020

    Letter from Tokyo

    THINGS HAVE SEEMED CALM in Tokyo during the pandemic. I am tempted to write ominously calm, but in all honesty, things do not feel ominous to me—and this absence of ominousness is what is so discomposing. Yes, there is the constant hum of anxiety emanating from the television, where ongoing criticism of the government’s prevention and containment measures are heard, and where pundits speculate on how the postponement of the Olympics will impact the economy. But everyday life goes on, even despite warnings about a second wave of cases: people dine out, ride trams, and even stop by the galleries

  • “Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s”

    “AWAKENINGS” was the latest collaboration between museums in Japan, Korea, and Singapore to loosen the grip of postwar, so-called Western narratives of art. The ambitious curatorial team (Cheng JiaYun, Seng Yu Jin, Adele Tan, Eugene Tan, and Charmaine Toh of the National Gallery Singapore; Tomohiro Masuda and Katsuo Suzuki from the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo; and Bae Myungji and Ryu Hanseung of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul) organized more than a hundred artists from twelve countries across three sections—“Questioning Structures,” “Artists and the City,”

  • 12th Shanghai Biennale

    EVER SINCE the Shanghai Biennale moved to the Power Station of Art in 2012, monumental works have been a mainstay of the event. Take, for example, Huang Yong Ping’s nearly sixty-foot-tall cast-iron tower in that first edition in the former coal energy plant, or MouSen+MSG’s immersive “storytelling machine,” The Great Chain of Being-Planet Trilogy, in 2016.

    So it is refreshing to enter the cavernous main hall and find a relatively understated display: Enrique Ježik’s In Hemmed-in Ground, 2018. The installation consists of sixteen Chinese characters, each constructed humbly from cardboard and steel,


    Curated by Reiko Tsubaki, Hirokazu Tokuyama, and Haruko Kumakura

    For the sixth edition of the Mori Art Museum’s triennial survey of contemporary Japanese art, the institution’s three curators delve into the question of what kind of role art might play in a society where political and economic polarization is exacerbated by rapid technological change. The show’s roster of twenty-five artists and collectives—most of the exhibitors are in their thirties and forties—is diverse with respect to medium and style. For instance, the latest high-tech garments from the fashion label Anrealage will


    If all thinkers are either hedgehogs or foxes, as per Isaiah Berlin’s well-known classification, Chinese artist, curator, theorist, and educator Qiu Zhijie is one of the latter: a fox who knows and does many things, sometimes too many for the audience to digest at once. “Mappa Mundi,” Qiu’s second solo show in Beijing this year, will focus on a single aspect of his multifarious practice—namely, maps. More than thirty large-scale ink-on-paper works will provide a comprehensive view of the complex conceptual territories Qiu has constructed in his “Mapping the World Project,”

  • interviews March 27, 2018

    Wang Yin

    Wang Yin is a Beijing-based artist whose works carefully trace the aesthetic experience that informed the modernization of painting in China. Here, he discusses his latest exhibition, “Friendship,” at Vitamin Creative Space’s Mirrored Gardens in Guangzhou, China, which features fourteen new works illuminated only by natural light. The show is on view until April 15, 2018.

    I DECIDED TO TITLE THIS SHOW “FRIENDSHIP” because I think we need to establish a more friendly relationship with the past and with the Other. Oil painting has always been an incomplete issue in East Asia. And I am willing to

  • Yang Jian

    Near the entrance of Yang Jian’s solo exhibition “Constructing Ruins,” visitors encountered a short text typewritten on a small piece of paper attached to a length of rebar. The elliptical words tell the story of a crew of workers who run into trouble constructing a bridge. The foreman, disguised as a beggar, asks nearby villagers for two sets of children’s clothes. The workers nail the clothes to a post and, suddenly, they are able to complete the bridge successfully. Soon, however, the children to whom the clothes belonged die.

    This tale was among half a dozen stories printed on as many pieces


    The seventh edition of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, organized by Hou Hanru and two founding partners of the local architectural collective urbanus, has chosen as its main venue a unique enclave in the city: Nantou, a historical town that is gradually transforming into one of the city’s so-called urban villages. A side effect of Shenzhen’s rapid economic development, these sprawling villages-in-the-city lack central planning and enjoy limited access to city services, often providing a home for migrant populations. This biennial—through


    Among the few female painters of the Republican era in China, Pan Yuliang (1895–1977) may be the most well known. Her captivating life story, fraught with controversy and intrigue, has been told and retold in various movies, TV dramas, and novels. Yet her artistic legacy and its position in the broader project of China’s modernization remain largely unexplored. The two-part survey “A Portrait of Pan Yuliang”—split between a research platform hosted by Villa Vassilieff in Paris from May 20 to June 24 and an exhibition at Guangdong Times Museum—will be a

  • “Song Dong: I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven”

    In the Analects, Confucius says that fifty is a watershed year in one’s life, a time when one becomes conscious of the “mandate of heaven,” or one’s position in the universe. This has apparently not been the case for the fifty-year-old Beijing-based artist Song Dong, who has titled his midcareer survey “I Don’t Know the Mandate of Heaven.” The exhibition presents major works made since the 1990s, including paintings, photographs, installations, ceramic sculptures, and videos, offering a chance to examine Song’s eclectic yet consistent approach to art and

  • Du Keke

    1 “DISCORDANT HARMONY” (KUANDU MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, TAIPEI; CURATED BY CHIEN-HUNG HUANG, YUKIE KAMIYA, SUNJUNG KIM, AND CAROL YINGHUA LU) Asia may not actually exist. Such is the provocation suggested by this exhibition’s oxymoronic title and elaborated in the curators’ statement. Unfolding across three venues over two years and featuring a shifting constellation of works by artists from Korea, Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the show shattered any simplistic notion of the region as a cohesive cultural entity—indeed, exploded the term harmony itself, which is frequently deployed

  • Olafur Eliasson

    THE TITLE OF Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition at the Long Museum West Bund, “Nothingness is not nothing at all,” was cleverly translated as “Wu Xiang Wan Xiang,” a riff on Chinese philosophical perspectives on nature and the universe. Uniting two homophonic versions of xiang, the former referring to appearance or form and the latter to a manifestation of nature, the Chinese version thus read: “Assuming no appearance is (to embrace) every manifestation of nature”—ironic, given that there was nothing natural in this exhibition, which marked the artist’s most comprehensive presentation in China

  • diary March 20, 2015

    World Cliques

    WHAT EXACTLY MAKES A “WORLD”? Maybe a heady topic for an art fair, but that was the one courted by infamous philosopher Lu Xinghua last Friday during a book launch for 3 Parallel Artworlds at Hong Kong’s Hanart TZ Gallery. “Alain Badiou once said that we all live in the same world, but one reigned by different logics,” Lu argued. “As a way of drawing equivalences, money has ruled us for the past five hundred years. If we could find a way to overturn the rule of money-logic, we may finally achieve communism.”

    I’m not sure if that’s exactly how Badiou put it, but Lu’s speech was a perfect fit for

  • slant December 16, 2014

    Du Keke

    WHILE THIS YEAR, another wave of East Asian shows explored (Western) modernity—with terms such as Anthropocene, thingworld, and posthuman popping up in the titles and curatorial statements of various exhibitions—two large-scale prodemocracy protests in Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as escalating territorial disputes in the East China Sea, plainly prove that the mission Frantz Fanon set out for the third world in The Wretched of the Earth (1961):—“to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers”—is far from being fulfilled.

    The 2014 Yokohama Triennale refrained from

  • diary November 30, 2014

    Facts of Life

    IN THE FIRST FEW HOURS after my arrival in Shanghai, all anyone seemed to talk about were the films Lucy and Interstellar, and I was suddenly reminded of 2012, when one had to follow the popular soap opera Legend of Zhen Huan to participate in any conversations. It seems the Chinese art world’s interests have shifted from Qing Dynasty–era royal politics to apocalyptic futures grafted with fabulist science. A welcome change, in my book; if our fictions speak to a certain truth of our social life, how much more fun to privilege the future over the past, science fiction over fusty politics?