artists & participants
MoCA Envisage 2006
“Entry Gate: Chinese Aesthetics of Heterogeneity”
Kuratoren: Uli Sigg, Sunhee Kim, Ye Yongqinq, Victoria Lu
In this age of wide-ranging information exchange and of universal access to knowledge, people have succeeded in multiplying and democratizing the channels of information dissemination. As peoples’ material conditions have improved, their increasingly sophisticated artistic mood is reflected not only in their sense of the beauty of forms but also in their demands for spiritual beauty, which increase daily. The literati of ancient China have become both the refined intellectuals of today who work in a variety of fields and those industrialists who maintain a spirit of intellectualism. Traditional Chinese literati art was not merely a visual art form used as a means of communication among the literati, but also held a resonance with their commonly-held practice of living on an aesthetic plane. Ancient literati applied their spiritual aesthetic values to their food、 clothing、 habitation、 and conduct in daily life. Through music, chess, calligraphy, painting, and other forms of quotidian aesthetic expression, they inspired and learned from each other. Thus, Chinese literati art is not merely a formal art in and of itself. Instead, it is an embodiment of one’s connoisseurship of life. It is a form of communication through a spiritual language，as well as a shared search for lofty aesthetic values.
The contemporary art that this new century and this new China have produced has unavoidably tended toward Neo-Eclecticism, which has resulted in experience with “conceptualism” and with the “handling of media and materials”. This has, in turn, created a more liberal dialogue; for artists not only have re-excavated history to build new interpretations and perspectives, but also have made repeated use of the cultural characteristics unique to each and every people of the world. The artists endlessly piece together these perspectives with the artists’ individual experience of contemporary life，as well as with questions of medium、reorganization、and rebirth; some artists also consider questions of gender. Moreover, the visual forms that have been produced through this sort of cross-pollinated heterogeneity actually include traditional art forms descended from those of the past; indeed, artists see these traditional art forms as just one of multiple possible media。
This summer, MoCA Shanghai presents its first biannual Envisage. Henceforth, the museum will focus on the research and development of Chinese contemporary art, presenting the trends and tides of Chinese contemporary art on a grand scale. The objects of solicited exhibitions will include all artists creating or producing within China，artists of Chinese descent born or working outside of China，or international artists who have been influenced by Chinese culture. Simultaneously, we will continue to pay heed to the trends and development of contemporary art in China. This first MoCA Shanghai biannual Envisage, which is focused upon the theme “Entry Gate to China: Neo-aesthetics of Heterogeneity,” highlights the uniqueness of Chinese culture, providing a digital age visual feast that brings into full play China’s special sense of aesthetics; following the path of Neo-Eclecticism，the exhibition will trans-examine the styles and features of art both old and new, Chinese and foreign, ultimately allowing comparison of and dialogue between the historical depth of Chinese culture and the current condition of international contemporary art.
This exhibition is composed of three large systems. The first centers upon quotidian aesthetic creations related to the condition of Chinese literati art；the second is with regard to the traces and vestiges of the artist’s hand; the third deals with the so-called extremes of expression，including the extremely large,the extremely small, the extremely numerous, the extremely few, and other such forms that surpass the conditions of real life。 Besides including Chinese artists and designers working both in China and abroad, MoCA Shanghai has also invited European, American and artists from throughout Asia who live or work in China to participate in this exhibition. Through the creation of art, these artists give expression to their sense of aesthetics, as well as to their experience of daily life’s intricacies. Moreover, they express their sense of the neo-aesthetics of this new century’s international cultural environment of mass communication and interactivity.
The standards of living that the neo-literati of today’s China have cultivated in this digital environment are a concentration and hybridization of aesthetic senses both ancient and contemporary, Chinese and foreign, all of which have in turn metamorphosed into a heterogeneous neo-aesthetics. Moreover, these standards reflect the establishment and implementation within daily life of the aesthetic tastes of China’s new intellectual population. Within the population of more than one billion Chinese speakers，this common aesthetic taste has gradually been formed by a consonance of aesthetic views. This road to eclecticism does not testify to the pure-blooded cultural lineage of the Chinese people，nor is it a form of opposition or revolutionary identity. The neo-literati aesthetics explored by this exhibition breaks with traditional presumptions regarding Chinese literati art; furthermore, it gets rid of last century’s artists’ introspection and responses to the unique phenomena of 20th-century Chinese politics and culture. Not only is the heterogeneous aesthetics of the new century’s Chinese neo-literati an embodiment of the vertical synthesis of China’s 5000 years of cultural history into a neo-aesthetics, but also it is a blending of global civilization, which was produced through a lateral penetration of this environment of limitless information-exchange and which has collected to form the new spiritual aesthetic boundaries of the Chinese position.
In this age of the free flow of information and of the explosion of knowledge， avant-garde spirit has been replaced by a philosophy of “living in the here and now.” The history of civilizations both ancient and modern, both in China and abroad, is abundant material that any person can arbitrarily gather at any moment. All people can become exploiters or embezzlers of the multiple paths of history. All people can re-blend this material, creating even newer varieties. Today，anyone who opposes or resists history is no longer a vanguard hero but is rather a pitiful, ignorant being who exists in this information age without access to vital resources。
The special exhibition “Entry Gate：Chinese Aesthetics of Heterogeneity” reflects the outlook of these 21st-century Chinese contemporary artists who are facing the complete invasion of China by globalization. Moreover, the exhibition presents the heterogeneous, mixed-blooded artworks that are naturally produced in this environment of cultural hybridization. We see, too, a tendency toward a common choice of aesthetic value in daily life, a resonance of aesthetic values with the quotidian. The resistant individual no longer defiantly issues monologues, no longer resists society。
The moment approaches existence, existence approaches living, but living nevertheless requires aesthetic practice.