press release

Chinese art is hot. But it is also in crisis. Its success in the global market system and institutions of representations—from galleries, museums, media to fashion industry, and even diplomatic operations, not to mention the private collections and trading—is transforming it into a more and more “typical” production of the society of the spectacle, and perfect commodity. This spetacularisation is turning a great number of art works from contemporary China into simple symbols, or tokens, of “cultural representation” of clichéd images of an imagined China easy to interpret, advertise and consumed by the global(ised) media and market. Not only the intellectual integrity of creation is threatened, but also individuality and singularity of the artist, hence his or her personal freedom of linguistic and imaginative expressions are in ruin.

The process of artistic creation is now reduced to something unnaturally limited and manipulated. And the artists are losing their own selves. The real values of artistic activities and their social functions such as political struggle, personal emancipation, etc, are alienated.

The best way to resist to this crisis of alienation is to look for truly natural ways of living and working—be natural, be oneself. One thinks about the old Chinese maxim: shunqi ziran

Being natural and loyal to one’s own principles actually proves to be a complex exercise. It’s a test of the ethical integrity, intellectual commitment of the artist, and his or her life-long engagement with continuously exploring and expression of the meaning of being creative vis-à-vis a changing, and aliening, outside world. In the process one has to constantly struggle for the relevance of one’s artistic vision and expression to face a changing world. This demands patience and capacities to negotiate with the surrounding space eternally under pressure of the exterior gaze and material conditions. At the end, one must manage to identify and manifest one’s real self, or one’s natural state of existence as an artist.

A residency project can materially provide a certain material conditions of the hatching of the projects by artists who are looking for time and space to conceptualise and materialise their efforts to “return” to the natural process of creation. On the occasion of the residency at the FRAC des Pays de la Loire, in 2011, we have selected and invited 6 artists from China emerging respectively from the late 1990s and the last few years: Huang Xiaopeng, Kan Xuan, Duan Jianyu, Yang Guangnan, Yang Xinguang and Jiang Pengyi . They are among the most singular personalities in terms of artistic, philosophic and social conception and aesthetic bias and language – that we consider as perfectly exemplary in this respect. And the space and time, as well as the modest but efficient resources provided by the residency can provide them necessary conditions to explore the reconstruction of the natural state of being the self through dialogues with the other, both between the Chinese and the European, and among themselves… —Hou Hanru

Be Natural, Be Yourself
XXVe Ateliers Internationaux Of The Frac Des Pays De La Loire
Kurator: Hou Hanru

Künstler: Yang Guangnan, Duan Jianyu, Jiang Pengyi, Huang Xiaopeng, Yang Xinguang, Kan Xuan