The outcome of a 6-week residency at IFP, this exhibition is also the continuation of an ongoing research project into the three-dimensional image; the nature and influence of media on society, our memory and understanding of reality.
The exhibition in Black Sesame presented a series of kinetic installations that challenge the space as well as the spectator with their intricate form and effect. In these works Julien Maire investigates the notion of mobility and reproduction in a digital age and ponders on an archaic way of representing reality using the most recent technology. Composed from digitally designed and fabricated components together with electronic controllers, a sculptural expansion system occupies the main room, continuously modifying and creating interruptions to the space. In parallel, a customized projection device explores "cinema in relief", a method developed by the artist of projecting images using three-dimensional objects printed in a translucent material. Miniature motifs taken from the Beijing cityscape made by participants of the fabrication workshops, are magnified to reveal a highly textured image that explores the depth of field made possible only by using a volumetric form.
In his artworks and performances, Brussels-based Julien Maire (b. 1969, France) systematically re-invents the technology of visual media. His research is a manifest hybrid between media archaeology and the production of new media constellations. His output consists of prototypes proposing unique technological configurations that produce a new, specific image quality. As industrial prototypes, these original creations – no matter how technically clever and refined – are rather useless: they are too complex, too delicate and too clunky to ever be considered for mass production. As artistic statements, the main function of these full-scale constructions is to provoke an effect of wonder, alerting the viewer to the ambivalent status of moving images produced by a machine. - Edwin Carels
This residency and exhibition was a part of the 10th Croisements Festival and made possible with the support of Wallonie-Bruxelles International, WBTD, Institut Français (FaguoWenhua) and The French Embassy in China. The Stereolithographic 3D printing was sponsored by Formlabs.
Endless Portraits is a series of portraits in motion filmed around the world. Presented on large vertical monitors, these are portraits of a new genre exploring the extension of images through time - eternally expanding moments. They have neither beginning nor end and replay indefinitely, according to a generative computer code, consisting only of a few seconds of film. For his exhibition in IFP’s Black Sesame Space, Nicolas Clauss presented new work produced during his residency at IFP.
Remembered Futures Beijing
In July 4-8th 2015, IFP hosted Remembered Futures, a project by and with composers/musicians/researchers Amble Skuse, Carolyn Chen and Grace Leslie. The three were in Beijing exploring an ancient Chinese instrument – Guqin – coupled with computers and electronics to produce ambient and meditative music and sounds that challenge both history and present. Drawing inspiration from remembered heritage and imagined futures, they paint a vision of the now.
The 'Open Sessions' at IFP will be the culmination of 6 weeks of exploration, meditation, conversation and experimentation. They will share film documentation and recordings of their experiements in the gallery space and there will be a series of private intimate 'playings' where you can hear the artists' minds talking to each other through sound.
Looking at heritage and tradition, we can only ever see it through a lens of our own experience, blurring the hyper modern, information technology, fast paced brain patterns with the slow, reflective pace of the Guqin culture. We use EEG readers to explore patterns of meditation through electronic sound, and explore the theory of non-performance (guqin culture) by playing stealth concerts and focussing our performance inwards rather than outwards towards an audience.
The culture of the guqin is vastly different from our notion of 'performed' musical culture. The process of learning and playing the guqin is a process of self reflection and refinement. This should be a meditative process in which you learn to hear the wisdom of the ancient composers, centre your inner thoughts and find a connection with heaven through a spiritual stillness.
The playing of the guqin is about the performer finding a truthful space in the moment, and communicating that through the music. This resonates with performance art as opposed to theatre. We are not summoning our energy to 'perform' for you, blocking out where we 'really' are in order to deliver an agreed and rehearsed pretense. What you see when we play is how we are in that moment. This process draws from improvisation, and performance art theory, and we explore it though using real time brain wave sensors (which we are unable to control or bluff) and improvised playings.
Sunday July 5th Conversation
The guqin is a quiet, 7-string Chinese zither. The instrument of the literati, its history is rife with Taoist-Confucian ideology, practices of self-refinement, and lore of telepathic spiritual connection between players and worthy listeners. We will introduce the instrument and its unique cultural standpoint in a few pieces from traditional repertoire as a prelude to discussion. How does the guqin relate to other instrumental traditions, and other musical worlds? How might guqin tradition interface with contemporary music-making, composing, and improvising?
Monday July 6th Conversation: Listening to field recordings
What do we listen to when we listen to a recording of a city street or a mountaintop? How do we listen to field recordings – where do we do it and why? How is this experience specific, how does it relate to concert listening, or actually listening in the field itself? How does listening relate to meditation? We will share a few field recordings from Beijing and Gubeikou - please bring your own field recordings to share and discuss if you like!
Wednesday July 8th Conversation: Public and private listening
What are the virtues and failings of different forms of listening – concert performances, open rehearsals, private hearings and over-hearings? What are our expectations, what do we take home with us, and how does this relate to the form in which things are offered? We will discuss our experiences playing in non-concert spaces, in relation to other examples of socially engaged art or public performance.
Scanning The Blueprint
British artist Clare Kenny is in Beijing for a research residency at IFP linking her own artistic practice with curation and exhibition-making. Working as a both an artist and a curator in Basel where she is based, Kenny is interested in the way creating art both overlaps and differs from the process of making exhibitions. Invited by curator Xia Yanguo with an ambitious exhibition and event programme at IFP, she will be working in-situ with various media.
Drawing from her life experience, Kenny funnels both personal and collective memories into lighthearted yet ambiguous new objects. Utilising techniques aquired through her various jobs and studies such as that of as a specialised painter, she employs both decoration techniques from 19th century interiors and latest photographic technology. Combining photos and casts of everyday objects and creating scenes scrumbled or rolled up into architectural elements to suggest new readings and relationships between the works, the space of the gallery, and the dynamic of the city and its social structures.
After setting up her own initial 'blueprint' show in Black Sesame Space, the project will continue exploring the possibilities inherent in curatorial practice by inviting two Beijing-based curators to reinterpret her work from their own respective interests. In this way she draws attention to the role of the curator as a narrator whose reading of the works on display can be radically different from that of their original creator. In this relay of exhibitions, the same works will find new positions and histories, highlighting various perspectives into a complex art world.
Saturday July 18: Opening of first show installed by Clare Kenny.
The show consists of sculptural works made from photographs, plaster, bronze and glass created in both Basel and on-site in Beijing. Plaster casts of objects found at the institute of Provocation are installed together with casts brought from Basel of cake moulds and plastic packaging. The casts are marbleised using the artists’ version of the traditional Italian Scagliola technique. The photographic sculptures are formed using images the artist has taken in various museums and galleries since arriving in Beijing.
Saturday July 25: Seminar and Opening of second exhibition.
2 pm: Artist talk Clare Kenny /seminar: 'Everyone Is A Curator’
For this artist talk and seminar, Clare Kenny will present her work as an artist and curator, followed by a panel discussion with the selected curators of the three shows as well as others who work with curation in various ways. The theme will be on the phenomenon of the 'ubiquitously curated’, and the increasing interest from media and popular culture to work with artists and curators. The ambition is to open up a discussion around the two practices; how they overlap and what challenges today’s curators face when anyone (even Kanye West) can call themselves a curator for selecting a number of artworks and put them on display.
Speaker: Clare Kenny
Curators and critics: Xia Yanguo, Tianji Zhao
Saturday July 25, 5 pm: Opening second show curated by Xia Yanguo. Open until July 29th.
Saturday August 1st: Opening of third show curated by Tianji Zhao
The third interpretation of Clare Kenny's work will bring the works into the public space outside of IFP. Working mainly outside of the 'white cube', artist and curator Tianji Zhao has realized projects such as Sayizheng, a group exhibition format with performances and installations taking place in a selected public space, creating dialogues and interventions into a daily life setting. This way of creating unstable relationships between artwork and setting will further question the standard etiquette exhibition-making.
Clare Kenny's residency at IFP was supported by ProHelvetia.
Flickering green lights. That is the first thing that meets you when you enter Black Sesame, where two light boxes and a tatami mat form the foundation for a number of smaller installations, accompanied by an earthy scent which fills the room.
In her installation MANA, Astrid Myntekær makes use of a variety of media and materials: Spirulina algae, small pre-fabricated lightning fractals, 3D prints, laser lights, locally found bricks and objects, self-made concrete items, a projected hammer in action, a video of algae sex...
In a way similar to how the blue-green algae has managed to transform the whole atmosphere, creating life beyond themselves, so could human (self-) destructive behavior generate life for an ecosystem beyond ourselves - an ecosystem populated by organisms that are not carbon-based or depending upon oxygen.
In a time when hackers are the new revolutionaries - and there are signs that we could perhaps move completely away from biology and through the screen to a breathless virtual reality – Astrid Myntekær wants to hold on to and question the topics of biology, emotion and spirit.
The exhibition title Mana is referring to the Arabic word Manna, sometimes or archaically spelled mana, is an edible substance that, according to the Bible, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert. But MANA – is also a word in several Austronesian languages which has many meanings. In Polynesian culture, mana is a spiritual quality considered to have supernatural origin—a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Therefore to have mana is to have influence and authority, and efficacy—the power to perform in a given situation. This essential quality of mana is not limited to persons—peoples, governments, places and inanimate objects can possess mana. The term has also entered the Western academy, where scholars of anthropology and comparative religion have written about it extensively. Finally, modern fantasy fiction, computer and role-playing games have adopted mana as a term for magic points.
The Aliens of Courtyard 23
Yan Bing, Michiel Hilbrink, Alessandro Rolandi, Dan Wirén, Megumi Shimizu, Ole Aselmann，Na Buqi，Han Wuzhou，Sun Yan，Ake，Chen Shuyu，Max Gerthel，Wang Guangxu, Zeng Hong, Tianji Zhao
Institute for Provocation invited 13 artists to transform the last remaining courtyard in Baitasi, Qianchaoshou hutong No 23, into an experimental and experiential space. Drawing from the conditions offered by the courtyard, a complex and highly textured environment characterised by a long series of rooms and small courtyards, this project proposed displacement and juxtaposition of contrasting artefacts, materials and actions as ways to counteract and reflect on the status of this place and others like it.
Displacement, shift, relocation are words that can describe a contemporary condition in which our individual and collective consciousness incorporates experiences other than our own, in one sense distant and unfamiliar, to become a part of our personal history. Physical places become media, broadcast across physical boundaries to be experienced elsewhere, as a visual flow of imagery complete with its built-in ocular distortion mechanisms. Similarly, as people are relocated to new places without familiar truths, these voids tend to get filled with hopes and fears intimately linked to the experience of otherness.
As a collective art installation rather than a group exhibition, The Aliens of Courtyard 23 will present various perspectives on how to approach the strangely alluring decay of an evacuated Beijing courtyard.
(the question) and (the answer)
Swedish artist group Local A. created an installation and a performance for the exhibition (the question) and (the answer), a new phase in their travelling project (the question), concluded during their residency at IFP.
(the question) is a participatory project composed of workshops in which participants are instructed to create portraits of themselves in clay at a public location or in a space designed by the artists. While emphasizing the process of creation and reflection rather than the outcome, the self-portraits could be seen as a way of displaying the individual’s connection to, or footprint on society, just in the way artists have used the self-portrait throughout art history to relate to the position they have occupied in society and in physical space. The workshops, which Local A. regarded as performances in their own right, were documented and included in the video piece that has been shown in a new version for every occasion of exhibiting (the question).
In addition to the self-portraits, Local A. also asked collaborators to write down the most pressing question they were carrying with them at that moment. Through the places where the project has been developed and exhibited – Stockholm and Gävle in Sweden, Jerusalem and Hofit in Israel and in Istanbul – (the question) has become a sponge for picking up some random but urgent questions of our time.
For the occasion of exhibiting (the question) in Beijing, Local A. decided to address their accumulation of questions by asking the staff and collaborators of IFP to answer a few questions each. This way they have attempted to give the project, which until now had been seen as indefinite, some closure. The result could seen in the exhibition and the video (the question) and (the answer).
What is Happening Outside?
When someone uses the term ‘future’, the inaccessibility of it is often ignored. Ideas regarding the future easily lead to futuristic stories as speculations derived from extrapolating historical situations. For me it seems that the idea of the future, that what is to be, is thus misinterpreted. In this exhibition I approach the future as something that is hermetic and inaccessible. Yet at the same time I want to explore if this view can be challenged. In the book ‘The Last Man’, Maurice Blanchot describes a man outside of human. This man is tangibly present, but at the same time absent. At the first sight the ‘last man’ seems inaccessible but he becomes more and more present without losing his abcense. Fragments of the book serve as a guide in a number of artworks in the exhibition and in thinking about the future in general.
Holding on to historical relations and memories makes it difficult to challenge the inaccessibility of the future. The artworks in the exhibition relate to this as well as to materiality and symbolism through which we try to understand. The detachment of existing memories open up possibilities to reinterpret something in an other way, like the painted logo of Starbucks and the matching green colored wall that are recognized easily but only when one knows its origin. This is reversed when an unusual object suggests a non-existing history and the object is loaded with expectations, hence creating a prospect. Ambiguities of being inside or outside, mimicking and mirroring saturate an atmospheric dialogue between the works. A dialogue without beginning or end.
When Riddle Meets Fable
An 18th century diver; a whirlpool of ink and hammered paper; a stainless bowl turning the world upside down and outside in. In his variation of grayscale moments Dan Wirén has found a path into a meditative world populated by the shadows and remnants of civilization, whether captured in a blob of ink evocative of psychoanalytical tests or in a black figure asking the same question to each viewer – What Am I? Collages of images sourced from his own urban walks as well as open-source streams from around the world, carefully collated and printed on rice paper, similarly inquire into our personal pools of references and reflections.
Over the past three months during his residency at IFP, Dan Wirén has been engaged in a series of parallel investigations. Daily rituals of painting, washing, drying, observing and collecting have turned into a body of work that attempts to accommodate impressions of his own existence - in China and in the World. Most of time he stays in his temporary studio inside the old courtyard pavilion which is now the IFP Studio. Every day he works in front of a big table with papers, fibres, soot, ink and water. On the wall he pinned paintings and photos with tiny magnets; scattered in the room there are objects he picked up somewhere I his daily walks or weekly travels.
"Painting means treating matter, creating traces of actions, dots and lines, blunts and smudges, reactions on the matter itself. The world and how it enters the field of observation is the landscape spread around me. Inside me. My works have always been more of a journal than a manifestation. A running line of happening in which I later can create a slightly different order. Create confrontations between different strata. Investigate connections between things I first thought had nothing to do with each other. I find myself working like a filmmaker making cuts and montage in a kind of 'life-movie'. Where meaning increases at the border between in- and out-side, in the actual cut." - Dan Wirén
Tradition and innovation are the front and back sides of fabric.
Jenny Berntsson's ongoing research project Textile Architecture originally emerged from an interest in Shunga, Japanese erotic paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries. In the paintings, she noticed how the fabric become an expression of movement and implication, both covering and exposing the bodies at the same time. She started to draw the fabric body without human body under it. Thus it is treated neither as material nor object, but the drawings start to tell a new and open narrative. Later, when seeing migrants and beggers staying in public space in Stockholm, she re-examined the notion of the fabric as a piece of architecture—people who tried to cover themselves, to hide, to curl themselves to be invisible, until you can hardly tell if they are objects or human being. In a world that looks so clean and clear, they are temporary and fragile, but their strangeness is also very stubborn.
Fabric is essential to protect the naked human body from climatic conditions. In addition, it renders the illusion of beauty, identity and power - we try to grab, to posses, to show, then to throw away and forget. Fabric covers people and moves with us for every single step taken; it divides the boundary between public and private; it defines a distance between the human being and its surroundings; it expresses freedom and taboo; it is unfolding a story that is happening now.
Matter Of Gradation II: Notes and Standstills
Charlott Markus' exhibition in IFP's Black Sesame Space will be an installation that invites the audience into the artist's own spatial collage of impressions, influenced by her surroundings and studies over the last six months. This collage/assemblage will be about composing the un-composed, observing the everyday and to engage in movement within a standstill. On display will be a play with matter and a gradation of stages, a collaged platform not so distant from painting. An intuitive yet a careful assemblage, a choreography with materials which will give hints of the artist's residency in Beijing.
“I am fascinated with the everyday arrangements and compositions that can be found in and around the hutongs of Beijing, more specifically the occurrence of textile in public space. The gray walls that dominated my initial perception of this city are still also very much present in the artistic process, with their patchwork of over-painted posters and messages, manifesting a level of abstraction in our everyday lives. With their silence the walls talk about the hidden, the wordless and the mute. These collages are unspoken of and yet so present, becoming billboards of the long forgotten and the yet to be seen. Making a stretch from abstract expressionism to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This process is about perception, about contemplation and isolation and in the end about being patient enough to observe the smallest layers in our everyday whole.”
"g" is the name derived from the measurement of acceleration in free fall.
Water fills all kinds of containers. So we consider the shape of water the same as a cup or the endless sea. But when "g" loses all weight and becomes 0, water breaks down into drops. It seems only in this moment they could act as themselves, since a drop is the smallest unit of water.
When striking the surface of a drum, each drop makes its own sound, and gathers again forming a new shape, then evaporates. They seem to have disappeared, but they never will disappear or exist.
In the installation g=0 the artist investigates the nature of gravity by the means of composing a rhythmic score. A series of instruments are activated by the orchestrated force, as their beats resonate through the walls, floor and ceiling of the space. Sound begins and continues, visitors step into an automated concert performed by mechanic devices regulating flows of liquids with close precision. A spotlight turns on, fades out then shifts, and the show goes on.
Self-educated artist Wen Zhu (1987) engages in computer programming, mechanical equipment and natural elements to form simple yet complex works of installation, performance, animation and sound art. His works examines the impact of technological amplifications in a critical and humorous way, at the same time explores the physicality of natural forces through sound and rhythm. He lives and works in Beijing.
Yang Xinguang will activate his work Black at 4pm this Sunday September 13th in Black Sesame Space.
Using sound as the main medium, this spatial work connects the gallery space with its external environment. Black suggests acceptance and disguise - the experience of continuous inflation in a person’s body after having absorbed various information from society, the city and daily life. This is a black hole that we cannot see, linking the outside world with the self. Artist Yang Xinguang’s spatial and performance piece will generate a process which reminds us the presence of Black. Visitors are invited to respond on site to the experience of Black in their own ways.