China is officially known as the People’s Republic of China. Located in East Asia, China is the world’s second largest country by land area. China is a sovereign state, a single party state, and governed by the Communist Party. They exercise jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing, and also two mostly self-governing special administrative regions which are Hong Kong and Macau. China claims Taiwan as its 23rd province due to the unresolved Chinese Civil War and Taiwan’s complex political status, but Taiwan is a separate political entity controlled but the Republic of China not the People’s Republic of China.
China has the largest population with over 1.35 billion people. They have recently become the world’s fastest-growing major economy. As of 2013 they have become the world’s second-largest economy by nominal total GDP as well as purchasing power parity. They are also the world’s largest importer and exporter of goods.
China has the world’s largest standing army, the second-largest defense budget, and are recognized as a nuclear weapons state. In 1971 they replaced the Republic of China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Also, they are a member of numerous organizations like the WTO, APEC, and BRICS.
China has large influence on our world and their art is another growing influence that is impacting the contemporary art scene. Globalization is bringing the world together and contemporary art is now something the world, including China, can now be players in.
China is newer to the Venice Biennale. Chinese artists have been showing their work at the biennale since 1993. In 2005, China received their own pavilion. This year will be their fifth year at the biennale.
This year’s pavilion is located just outside of the arsenale grounds at the Venice Virgin Garden and Armory.
Commissioner: The China Arts and Entertainment Group (public institute).
Supporter: The Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China
Organizer: China International Exhibition Agency
This year’s pavilion exhibited a range of work including an interactive public art piece, sculpture, photography, and digital media. This year’s curator Wang Chunchen selected seven Chinese artists to showcase his theme which was Transfiguration: He Yunchang, Hu Yaolin, Miao Xiaochun, Shu Yong, Tong Hongsheng, Wang Qingsong, and Zhang Xiaotao. Transfiguration in the Chinese Pavilion represents a geographical journey of Chinese contemporary art and the expression of its culture. The art explores ideas on the history and traditions of China as well as the affects of globalization.
Wang Chunchen was selected as this year’s Curator. This is his first time curating an exhibition for the Venice Biennale. The head of the Department of Curatorial Research of the CAFA Art Museum at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The Adjunct Curator of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. The Deputy Principal Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art published in the UK.
He Yunchang’s The Sea Water of Venice was an interactive installation where he filled 2013 bottles with Venice’s seawater. Each bottle was signed and numbered and visitors were encouraged to exchange their own bottle they’d fill, sign and date with an existing bottle in the piece. Yunchang was interested in this idea of exchange and wanted to encourage a sense of sharing and communication. This piece resonates with me as I watch how social media has truly distanced so many of my generation. It is a simple act that can bring people together through interaction – something many of us do less and less of through the ease of social media which distances many people as we move away from traditional forms of communication and interaction.
Hu Yaolin’s Thing In itself was a sculpture that incorporated a piece of Hui-style architecture he had salvaged from one of his work sites. This type of architecture is something rapidly disappearing in the world and Yaolin decided to present this despite the rapid development and modernization across China. It’s important for the people of China to protect their cultural heritage while still growing and moving into the future. This theme is quite relevant to many cultures and countries and I felt quite connected to this piece and understanding of this desire. For younger generations a big challenge is figuring out our connection with our past and how we want to share that whether it is through art or another form.
I think the pavilion was fairly successful in bringing together different works and putting them in this umbrella theme of Transfiguration. There seemed to be mostly well received feedback on this year’s exhibition. I don’t feel these artists’s were all necessarily politically motivated choices. For example Hu Yaolin is a fairly unknown artist and I think his work went with the curator’s idea. Although it’s possible to argue that putting someone into the Biennale that is a no name will possibly give them credibility and then create a name for them. This being said, then every single decision has some play in the political world. I think the bigger issue with China and political decisions has to do with the recent boom of contemporary Asian art. It is something very new to the art scene in comparison to other contemporary art forms and although lacking in it’s history it is booming and even being placed in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. This is happening with other countries as well. China is becoming a power in many areas especially with the recent economic boom, but something important to note is that there are a lot of problems that are still there. Also, the art the rest of the world wants to see as contemporary Asian art does not necessarily reflect art movements that are happening and more underground in China currently. The Venice Biennale is just one piece of the pie.
1967 Born in Yunnan, China
Currently lives and works in Beijing, China
1991 Graduated from Central Yunnan Art Institute, China
He Yunchang has had several internationally acclaimed solo exhibitions, including Everybody, Feizi Gallery, Brussels, 2013; The Wings of Live Art – He Yunchang, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, Lucerne, 2010, and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, Beijing, 2009; The Ability to Exist, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta, 2008; and Rock Touring Around Great Britain, Chambers Fine Art, New York, 2007.
Biographical information not found. http://artsy.net/post/chinesepavilion-about-the-artist-hu-yaolin
1964 Born in Wuxi Jiangsu, China
Currently lives and works in Beijing, China
Studied at the Nangjing University
Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing
Lived as Artist in Beijing
Studied at the Kunsthochschule Kassel, Germany
Present Works as a teacher at the Department Photography and
Digital Media of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.
1974 Born in Xupu, Hunan, China
Currently lives and works in Beijing and Guangzhou, China
He has shown in solo and group exhibitions in Beijing, Lucerne and Berlin. He has participated in international art fairs in Shanghai, Hong Kong and London. In 2009 he was a guest of honor at the 2009 Florence Biennale and received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Biographical information not found. http://artsy.net/post/chinesepavilion-about-the-artist-tong-hongsheng
1966 Born in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, China
1993 Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Sichuan, China
Currently lives and works in Beijing
1970 Born in Hechuan, Chongqing, China
1996 Graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
1996-2009 Teacher in the Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu
2010 Teacher in the New Media Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
Now he lives and Works in Beijing and Chongqing
Hong Kong Pavillion
1978 Born in Hong Kong, China
2003 Graduated from the Fine Art Department (Degree), The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
2006 Study Master of Fine Art in the Fine Art Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
2009 Finalist of Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2009-10