Exhibitions , International

Shanghai, China: OCAT & KADIST Emerging Media Artist Exhibition 2020

Cheng Xinhao, Li Shuang, Lin Ke, Tang Chao, Tao Hui, Wang Tuo, and Zheng Yuan

The group exhibition marks the first chapter of the Emerging Media Artist Program 2020. Organized with OCAT Shanghai to support artists from China working in media art, this program includes an exhibition at OCAT Shanghai–the first presentation at their new venue–and a new residency program at KADIST San Francisco.

The artists Cheng Xinhao, Li Shuang, Lin Ke, Tang Chao, Tao Hui, Wang Tuo, and Zheng Yuan were selected from nominations by 44 art professionals for their demonstration of creativity, and command for the language of media art across multiple dimensions over the last three to five years. Their practices have displayed continuity and variation while simultaneously grasping complex issues and expanding narratives through their exhibitions at various art institutions, commissioned projects, and curatorial interventions.  

As today’s technological developments bring about new changes, media art is still widely dominated by artistic mediums such as moving image and installations. Yet, many artists expand beyond these considerations of a rapidly-evolving medium to explore their multiple identities and roles as artists in the social system. They often perform other social roles and identities that engage, observe, perceive, study, and impact the real world, and are no longer confined to their art studio, art exhibition, or art practice. The group exhibition at OCAT Shanghai extends this conversation by revisiting conventions of representing an individual artist’s practice in the exhibition space, proposing “un/conventional” ways to present the artists’ self-assigned social attributes instead. The artists carry out various types of “role play”–from geological surveyor to social movement practitioner, from vlogger to editor of a reconstructed news event–and become entirely independent from their artworks. 

About the collaboration

Bringing emerging Chinese media artists’ practices together through curatorial interventions has been one of OCAT Shanghai’s most meaningful endeavors since it was founded in 2012. For the seventh edition of OCAT Shanghai’s annual Emerging Media Artist Program, KADIST collaborates with OCAT Shanghai and contributes to this new network and expanded platform supporting artists’ vision and professional development. A collective effort with artists, curators, scholars in the field, and art organizations, the program aims to engage different contexts and organizations beyond the physical exhibitions and educational programs that only take place in the museum space.

The collaboration between OCAT Shanghai and KADIST began in April 2018 with the exhibition On Struggling to Remain Present When You Want to Disappear. OCAT Shanghai’s scholarship and understanding of the development of media art in China and KADIST’s comprehensive collection of media-based art led to fruitful exchanges and provided foundations for this renewed collaboration.

Click here for more information about the Emerging Media Artist Program 2020.

About the artists

CHENG Xinhao (b.1985, Yunnan, China) currently lives and works in Kunming, Yunnan. He received his Ph.D in Chemistry from Peking University in 2013. Focusing on his hometown in the Yunnan Province, Xinhao’s works are usually based on long-term field studies. With videos, installations, photographs and the presence of the author’s body, his works investigate the polyphonic relationships between logic, discussions, knowledge, and the part that nature, society, and history plays within them.

LI Shuang (b.1990, Wuyi Mountains, China) currently lives and works in Yiwu. She received her MA in media studies from New York University in 2014. Her work is situated in globalized communication systems and is inspired by various localities and uneven information flows, as her practice studies various mediums composing the contemporary digital landscape. Encompassing performance, interactive websites, sculpture, and moving image installations the interaction between the medium and its users as well as amongst the mediums themselves is crucial to Li’s practice. These diverse forms of intimacy form a motif that runs through the artist’s practice, as she explores how various forms of technology bring us into contact, and how they form part of a neoliberal apparatus that regulates the body and desire. Yet her focus is not limited to the virtual, but also includes the material lives of digital landscapes, such as the infrastructural and logistical systems that support it, and more importantly, the cracks in between.

LIN Ke (b.1984, Wenzhou, China) currently lives and works in Shanghai. His work takes the form of installation, image, sound, text, video, and computer painting. Since 2010, Lin Ke has turned his attention to the behavioral science of the computer age by making himself his own Guinea pig. Converting his laptop into a studio, Lin extracts material from computer software and the Internet as the fodder and form of his art. The mundane act of exploring the vicissitudes of the world wide web and various applications becomes the catalyst for his art making and self-portraiture. He records operational behavior and conceptual images by using screenshots and screen recording software.

TANG Chao (b.1990, Hunan, China) currently lives and works in Shanghai. He graduated from the School of Inter-Media Art at the Academy of Fine Arts. The essence of Tang Chao’s work is like suggestions on lightness in literature. For instance, he refines a whole script into one sentence such as “The dilemma of being in a modern island, a paradise of self-exile.” And recently: “Several delightful dots covered of a series of weak voices.” When you focus on the tone and rhythm of the sentence, and express it through a camera, you then get the shaking focus, light and the scenes. The words are not the most important content; they are sometimes softly whispered, stuttered, or even topsy-turvy. Of course he occasionally uses pictures, performances, installations or dramas for expression, sometimes even typing a few letters on the keyboard. Tang Chao is good at pausing and pressing space, pressing and holding for a few seconds would be fine as well. He always tries to release some illocutionary meaning in every blank space with a straightforward manner.

TAO Hui (b.1987, Chongqing, China) currently lives and works in Beijing. He graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute with a BFA in Oil Painting in 2010. Tao Hui is interested in his culture and traditional art and folk culture have became main factors in his works. He believes that fairy tales could ease people’s intensive mind. Working with various mediums including graphic arts, painting, video, objects and installation, Tao Hui uses technological procedures and elements from Chinese tradition to question the tenets of globalization, virtual relationships and hegemonic thinking. Visceral and provocative, yet enlightening, Tao Hui’s works force the viewers to confront their own cultural history, way of living and social identity.

WANG Tuo (b.1984, Changchun, China) currently lives and works in Beijing. In 2014, he graduated from the School of Visual Art at Boston University with an MFA in Painting. Wang Tuo employs various mediums and a process that combines interviews, reality shows, and the theatre of absurd to construct a maze of melodrama. Through his performative manipulation on the individuals’ lived experiences and interventions into intellectual legacies such as literature, film, theatre and art history, Wang’s practice attempts to examine the unreliable relationship between the contemporary human status, myth and cultural archive. In the self-referential environments that he constructs, dramatic, often humorous as well as absurd aspects of the concept of society are exposed. Wang’s practice also seeks to develop a discourse on how present ideology is derived from its historical context, and continues to adapt to changing conditions.

ZHENG Yuan (b.1988, Lanzhou, China) currently lives and works in Beijing. Working primarily with time-based media, his work often operates at the intersection of fiction, documentary, essay, and investigative studies. His practice focuses on the individual identity and value system, and their ever-shifting relationship with history, power, and representation. By introducing archival material, found footage and situations Zheng’s work acquires an interwoven complexity within overlapping contexts.

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