press release

For Kiasma’s Wind from the East exhibition, we have chosen contemporary artists who weave old and new, East and West, myths and reality and change and permanence into a rich web in which opposites interact. The exhibition does not propose an overview. Instead, it offers a considered and focused selection of impressive works of art by artists who deal with topical and relevant issues.

Rapid changes and expanding economies are forcing Asians to adjust to new social and economic realities. But is our own understanding and knowledge of these distant places really any more pro- found than that garnered on holidays or the ephemeral stories of the mass media? The exhibition Wind from the East focuses on three Asian countries where change has been parti- cularly rapid: Indonesia, China and Thailand. Although they have different cultures, political cli- mates and religions, they all have strongly expanding economies and struggle with environmental and social problems, including human rights issues. Huge populations and mass migration to large cities pose challenges to environments and economies alike.

New biennials, Contemporary Art museums and art centres emerge everywhere, also in Asian area, and the artists with the best international contacts and networking skills are most likely to succeed or win recognition in the art world. Native cultures and Western influences often clash. The collision between strong, vibrant traditions and rapid change may indeed seem like a threat, though it may just as well be an opportunity.

The artists in the exhibition are Heri Dono, Eko Nugroho, Melati Suryodarmo and Entang Wiharso from Indonesia, Chen Zhen, Hu Yang and Yang Zhenzhong from China and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook from Thailand. Their works use the methods of Contemporary Art to deal with political issues, individuals at the mercy of the market economy, the parallelism of the spiritual and the material in the world, and the encounter between cultures.

Heri Dono (b. 1960) is one of the best-known Indonesian contemporary artists. His art draws on Indonesian heritage, magical realism and criticism of the political situation.

Eko Nugroho (b. 1977) is a member of the younger, politically aware and fast-moving artist generation of Yogyakarta. His humoristic and surreal imagery, adorned by ironic slogans, is created using the techniques of comic strips, painting, animation and tapestry.

Melati Suryodarmo (b. 1969), a performance artist, moved to Germany in 1994 to study under Marina Abramovic. Her intensive, strongly physical and sensual performances balance between laughter and seriousness, the everyday and the absurd.

Entang Wiharso (b. 1967) divides his time between the United States and Indonesia. His paintings and installations combine personal, Western and Indonesian mythologies and cast a critical eye on international politics, environmental issues and cultural stereotypes and prejudices.

Chen Zhen (1955-2000), who emigrated to Paris in 1986, was one of the most renowned contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. His experiences of living between two worlds are crystallised in his poetic installations, which bond together Western and Chinese motifs, a childhood informed by the Cultural Revolution and Buddhist philosophy.

Hu Yang (b. 1959) depicts the continuous change and huge social differences that exist in his native Shanghai in his photographic series Shanghai Living. The one hundred photographs take a peek into the living quarters, dreams and reality of illegal immigrants, the overworked middle class and the self-indulgent upper class.

Yang Zhenzhong (b. 1968) also takes the constantly changing Shanghai as his subject matter. His witty and humorous video works and installations open up new perspectives on the contradictions in Chinese society, consumerism and its flip side, mortality, and the required conditions for a happy family.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook (b. 1957) is currently one of the most famed and controversial Thai artists. She is famous for her video works that bring death close to us as she reads to the dead or dresses them in a tranquil and respectful atmosphere.

only in german

Wind from the East

mit Heri Dono, Eko Nugroho, Melati Suryodarmo, Entang Wiharso, Chen Zhen, Hu Yang, Yang Zhenzhong, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook