Map an Exhibition
White Rabbit Gallery
Contemporary Chinese art Collection
Exhibition title: Commune
Name of curator: Bonnie Hudson
Main idea, story or theme in this exhibition: The catapulting of China into the new world, such a rapid change caused tensions between the Confucian ideals of family centered life of previous generations and individualism of the younger generation, Bonnie Hudson explores the narrative around these two conflicting ideals existing in China.
Types of artworks/ artefacts/ objects included:
- brick wall installations
- produce eg.sunflower seeds
- portraits – oil paintings
- Found objects from the home
- Artifacts – books
- Whole room replicas/installations
How they relate to the story/theme:
The found objects are mostly used in creating a sense of familiarity or home life in a few of the works. The brick works bought in by the artist, bring parts of chinese lanscape to the gallery. One particularly focusing on the great wall of china becoming many little walls due to poverty in surrounding areas and people removing bricks to use. Produce alludes to traditional work life compared to other media based works, one in particular video focused on factory and industry shots.
Provenance of artworks:
Found objects some of which were transferred from china, others don’t say.
How does the arrangement of the artworks help communicate the story/theme?
The sculpture on the first floor introduces the audience to the theme and the panel is written in an introductory way also, Spring and Autumn 1 explores the erosion of the farmers life as they leave to work in the cities .
I thought it was a bit odd having the Cakravavda Mountain 2 placed in the center of the second floor, when first looking at it, it feels out of place but soon realised it was a transitional work between the old and new ideals of China “It is the route to the next world” quoted on its panel, although the quote is referring to the near death of a man i felt it also might be a nod to the near ending of traditional Chinese culture into the chaotic present felt by older generations.
How does the design of the display space help communicate the theme?
The gallery as a whole doesn’t have a smooth circular motion as there are walls dividing spaces, there was a bit of moving back a forth. You naturally feel to turn left when you come up the stairs, then go over to the far end and back through a section you’ve already walked through once.
I did notice the first and second floor walls were white, but when entering the third floor the walls were bright red and plum on the far side. Having never been to the gallery before i’m not sure if it’s always like that or for this particular exhibition. (I did look up the meaning of colours, red referring mostly to happiness and good fortune, some places say purple means nobility but the first purple pigment was invented in China so it could have history in that).
Draw a map of the exhibition space indicating viewer movement through the space:
What information was provided in the exhibition? is it helpful/important to have this information? Explain why
Without any prior information about the exhibition, i found a definite sense of focus on family and generational tensions in China, a sense of intimate home life as well as daily work ethic was translated through the works and the didactic panels. It wasn’t until after i had walked through the exhibition i asked for the title of the exhibition and the curators name, while i may not have picked up on the full impact of what was being said there was still a strong sense of that generational narrative. At the front entrance there wasn’t any free information available about the exhibition only a book that cost $10, so i didn’t get it. The girl at the front desk didn’t have much to say about the exhibition, she just directed me to the website. I wrote down my thoughts on the exhibition before looking up information on the internet later that night and then compared.
What artwork/ artefact/ object do you find central to the exhibition? Explain your interest in this work. Explain why you think it was selected for the exhibition. How does it fit with the idea/theme of the exhibition?
One of the stand out pieces from this exhibition for me was Everything from Nothing (2013) by Wang Lei. I walked straight past them at first however with a personal interest in textile techniques, when i read these were knitted out of strips of paper i was stunned and couldn’t stop staring, i really wanted to touch them. I was in awe of how much time and effort would have gone into them.
On the back wall is a collaged scroll of every face from a years worth of the Daily Oriental. The dates were torn off and placed into a clear box and the rest of the papers have been knitted into the sack seen below. The panel states “According to the Tao Te Ching, life and time belong to the realm of existence, which in turn arises from nonexistence”. Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text, using faces from recent newspapers seems to bring together traditional Chinese values with present day faces. The notion of the meditative task over a years time to create sacks that may hold nothing inside really speaks back to the mentioned verse.
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