Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu Journal’s 10th Anniversary Year – the November/December 2011 Issue Now Available

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Editor’s Note:

Yishu 47 opens with texts by Huang Zhuan and Zhu Qi, the two recipients of the Second Yishu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art. Huang Zhuan surveys the work of Zhang Peili and ties together various aspects, primary among them his important contribution to the evolution of video art in China, that have distinguished his work during a twenty-five year career. Zhu Qi provides an unapologetic critique that suggests China, and in turn its contemporary art, is potentially gambling away its integrity through the promotion of spectacles in order to establish a position as a major economic and cultural player on the international stage.

In contrast to Zhu Qi’s focus on the spectacle, Voon Pow Bartlett considers blandness, an aesthetic that is little discussed in the contemporary context yet has held a specific historical resonance through the centuries of Chinese art. Alice Schmatzberger, in her discussion of photography and its relationship to the city, echoes Zhu Qi’s apprehension about the alarming and unbridled growth of Chinese urban centers, but she looks to artists who are presenting perspectives that question rather than celebrate such growth. Adding to the complexity of China’s ongoing social transformation is Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky’s text on artist/gallerist Xu Yong and his compelling photographic document of one day in the life of a Beijing sex trade worker.

Joni Low interviews Howie Tsui, and Stephanie Bailey interviews Annysa Ng, two Hong Kong-born artists who now live and work in North America. While each of these artists explores different artistic mediums and iconography, they share an interest in subliminal states of consciousness, the supernatural, and the occult. And within this lies a strong influence of storytelling that draws upon traditional Chinese legend, myth, and opera as sources for their work.

Ken Lum’s recent survey at the Vancouver Art Gallery is reviewed by Jamie Hilder, who traces a distinct continuity in Lum’s employment of strategies that engage the viewer in a self-conscious and, at times, discomforting reading of his work. Lum demonstrates a particular propensity towards combining humour with sobering sociocultural issues that result in work that is immediately approachable yet provocatively disorienting. In her review of Wu Hung’s ambitious tome, Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, Micki McCoy articulates some of the challenges one faces in constructing a history of contemporary Chinese art and considers how this seminal book will function as a productive resource from which to further explore contemporary art’s complex trajectory.

Keith Wallace

image (top): Voon Pow Bartlett, Chinese Woman in Beijing (le flâneur), 2007, photograph on aluminium, 82 x 48 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

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