"As Seenis the perfect book to keep posted by the historian of the Chinese contemporary art scene. Thanks to Karen Smith, each year we have a great summary of what’s going on in China, as a panorama of the year’s top shows. A memory of the future, don’t miss Karen’s eyes."
Jérôme Sans, curator
" Published simultaneously in English and Chinese versions, and distributed both through the official Chinese system and the international art world system, this volume goes a long way toward creating a common frame of reference for recent developments in Chinese art, both inside and beyond China."
Philip Tinari, director, UCCA
Karen Smith has been writing about China’s contemporary art scene since the early 1990s. She has lived in China for twenty years during which time she has contributed to numerous international and domestic publications and exhibition catalogues, both for individual artists and group exhibitions.
Her personal books include several monographs on China’s leading artists, and the historical compendiumNine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China, which examines the careers of nine founding fathers of China’s new art movement which began in 1985.
In her capacity as curator, Smith regularly produces exhibitions in China and abroad.
As Seenis a series of publications that review the work of Chinese artists as presented in public museums and galleries in China.As Seenis not exhaustive, but it is the result of extensive exhibition-going. With particular focus on the achievements of young artists,As Seen 2continues to track the pulse of the times as it underscores artistic content and form.
4 FOREWORD | Philip Tinari, director, UCCA
6 AS SEEN 2 | Introduction
14 Heman Chong | A Stack
18 Pak Sheung Chuen | The Horizon Placed at Home
22 Luo Dan | Simple Song
28 Li Ran | Mont Sainte-Victoire (and other points of reference)
36 Chen Zhen | Same Bed, Different Dreams
44 Gu Dexin | Important is not the Meat
52 Huang Ran | Disruptive Desires, Tranquility, and the Loss of Lucidity
58 Liao Guohe | Popular Painting
62 Zhang Hui | Groundless
68 Xie Fan | The Layers
72 Wang Du | Contemporary Art Museum of China
76 Xu Bing | Book from the Ground
80 Irrelevant Commission | Why We Do Useless Things? and Unrelated Parades
86 Ma Ke | Life Most Intense
92 Jiang Zhi | If This is a Man / 5
98 Yang Fudong | Close to the Sea / Revival of the Snake
104 Jiang Xiaochun | 7
108 Li Shurui | The Shelter / A Wall
114 Zhang Ding | Buddha Jumps over the Wall
120 Hu Xiangqian | Protagonist
124 Wang Sishun | Liminal Space
128 Hai Bo | Solo
134 Zhou Tao | Collector
140 Pei Li | Generation P
146 Li Dafang | Throw-back: Jin Zhan’s Messy Growth, His Language and His Relatives
150 Wang Wei | A Wall on the Wall—A Floor on the Floor
154 Geng Jianyi | Wu Zhi
164 Chen Wei | A Forgettable Song / Xian City
170 Li Songsong | The One
176 Hu Yun | The Secret Garden / Reeves’s Pheasant
182 Zheng Guogu | Spirits Linger With Dust
188 Liu Wei | By Order of the Artist: No Title Necessary
192 Utopia Group | Trudge: Geography of Utopia Group
200 Zhou Yilun | Our House by the Seashore
206 Hu Xiaoyuan | No Fruit at the Root
210 Cao Fei | Secret Tales from the Museum
216 INDEX OF EXHIBITIONS
序言 Karen Smith: Witness to a WorldAs
Karen Smith is the most important chronicler of the emergence of Chinese art. Since she arrived in Beijing in the early 1990s, she has scrupulously attended, processed, recorded, and documented the birth and maturation of an entire world. Her early years in China unfolded at a time before contemporary art was governed by formal systems, and her encounters in those days were mediated by complex webs of personal and professional connections. She spent the 1990s going to exhibitions and performances, talking to artists, and going home to write down her memories and interpretations of these encounters. In a world where things have changed so quickly and thoroughly, Smith's diaries are probably the most comprehensive firsthand account that remains.
Though these early jottings form the basis for Smith's seminal book Nine Lives, a snapshot of the contemporary art scene in China through the personal and artistic stories of nine individuals which she authored in the early years of the twenty-first century, much more material from that period awaits publication in her next major book. Meanwhile, as the Chinese art scene has grown and flourished, so has Smith's place in it--she is now not simply a writer but also a curator, an arbiter, and a mediator in the broadest sense, offering her expertise to everyone from major Western institutions initiating projects in the PRC to newly founded Chinese museums looking to establish their taste and credentials. With her partner H.S. Liu, Smith has also acquired a deep expertise in Chinese photography, working on a major photographic history of Shanghai published at the time of that city's 2010 World Expo. But for Smith, even after two decades, the immediate written account remains the key vehicle by which she makes sense--for herself and her readers--of the complexities of Chinese art as they unfold, all around her, in real time.
The As Seen project was initiated two years ago by Post Wave Publishing Company, the publishers with whom Karen Smith had worked on several earlier titles including the Shanghai book. The idea was straightforward: Each year, for five years, she would choose fifty exhibitions that she found notable and write short accounts FOREWORD Karen Smith: Witness to a WorldAs them. Accompanied by images, these volumes would become yearly references, reliable accounts of what had happened in a cultural field that continues to morph and grow. The books do not focus on the institutional or commercial developments that are all too often the way we signpost this story; in fact, the name of the gallery or museum where each exhibition took place is given rather secondary billing, collected together into an index at the back. Rather, this is an account of contemporary art over the course of a year told through much as the author experienced it: as a string of encounters with works by individual artists, a strand of aesthetic epiphanies, revelations, and recognitions that follow each other in chronological order.
Karen Smith has been a mentor and friend since I started my own work in China, about ten years after she began hers. During the autumn of 2002, I worked under her to edit the English catalogue for the first Guangzhou Triennial, and I will forever remember our weekly Tuesday morning sessions in her studio going over my translation of a chronology of the 1990s that was to be included in that volume. It was the Oxford tutorial system reinvented for early-2000s Beijing, with me reading my usually inept attempts to render a string of exhibitions and artist names into passable English, while she would expand and supplement the record with her deep firsthand knowledge of everything it contained. It is thus a great pleasure for me personally, and for the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art as an institution, to participate in the publication of this, the second volume in the As Seen series. Published simultaneously in English and Chinese versions, and distributed both through the official Chinese system and the international art world system, this volume goes a long way toward creating a common frame of reference for recent developments in Chinese art, both inside and beyond China.