Fragmented Narratives: Chinese Art and American Context in the Age of Xi and Trump
Twenty-five years ago, a landmark exhibition of contemporary art from China opened at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. Entitled “Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile,” it presented major works by Gu Wenda, Huang Yong Ping, Wu Shanzhuan, and Xu Bing to an American audience, positioning these four artists as members of a movement that had “flourished between 1985 and 1989,” but who then had no choice but to leave a repressive home to continue their advanced pursuits in the progressive West.
Almost exactly a quarter-century later, FRONT brings works by artists Hao Jing Ban, Lin Ke, Cheng Ran, Li Jing Hu, Chen Tian Zhuo, Zhou Tao, Cui Jie and Liu Shiyuan back to Ohio as part of its “China Focus,” showing them against a vastly different background.
Today China stands not as a recovering pariah state but as a rising global power, albeit one arcing towards increased control. The U.S., meanwhile, finds itself polarized, with democratic norms in tatters and the veracity of basic facts in doubt. China’s art scene today is vast and vibrant, with a rich domestic ecology of institutional, critical, and market players, and a web of real-time connections to the world beyond. China’s artists are less concerned with questions of cultural identity and political memory, and less dependent on opportunities to exhibit abroad. Now that the old dichotomies have been destabilized, what does it mean to present their work in an American city? What might be gained, and what should we look out for?
Join us for a dialog between noted curators Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator, M+, Hong Kong, and Philip Tinari, Director of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, moderated by Michelle Grabner, Artistic Director, FRONT International.