Chinese film and video are not frequently featured in the context of visual art exhibitions. Yishu 70 presents two texts that examine the presentation of these mediums within the exhibition format. Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker discusses the Chinese Pavilion, designed by Rem Koolhaas, at the 2015 Venice Biennale, which for the most part included seasoned filmmakers, musicians, and dancers whose work focuses on the public realm and the engagement of all sectors of society in the formation of culture. Julie Chun presents an in-depth examination of Cinematheque, an exhibition of the work of Chen Wei and Cheng Ran, two artists whose interests resonate with the disquietudes of a younger generation.
Taliesin Thomas offers an insightful consideration of Chinese women artists whose work reflects a feminist position and that exemplifies aspects of Western feminist discourse while unveiling specificities that are characteristic of a Chinese social and political psyche. Zheng Shengtian, in his interview with Paz Venturelli Baraona, elaborates upon his research into the extensive engagement of Latin American artists, in this case Chilean artist José Venturelli, with Chinese culture and its government officials during the 1950s to the 1980s, contesting assumptions that Socialist Realism was all that was evident at the time.
The final four texts offer differing perspectives on the role of painting within contemporary art. Jonathan Goodman writes about Mao Yan and his commitment to a tradition of painting that in its figurative and academic roots straddles the artistic histories of both the West and the East. Danielle Shang’s essay on Qiu Xiaofei highlights a shift in the artist’s work that is the result of his persistent questioning of the relevance of painting today. Chia Chi Jason Wang pays homage to an artist who has been working for thirty years and traces the incremental shifts that have brought his painting into a dialogue with influences that include the San Francisco’s Bay Area Figurative Movement and the tradition of ink painting. Tianmo Zhang looks at an exhibition, Unscrolled, that also addresses ink painting but from a perspective that acknowledges its tradition while taking it into bold new contemporary realms.
Image (top): Wu Wenguang, China Village Documentary Project, 2005–06/2015, installation view, Chinese Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015. Courtesy of Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation.