An exhibition view of Projects on Paper section.
Presenting another dimension of Chinese Conceptualism, the Projects on Paper section on view features reproductions of some of the most important group projects in Chinese contemporary art including Agree to November 26th as a Reason, Wildernessand works by New Mark Group as well as some individual artists’ works. These projects were distributed and circulated in the form of low-budget publications, allowing organizers to “curate” art exhibitions which included works by artists from multiple cities that would not have otherwise been permitted for exhibition in gallery spaces. Some of the works included in this section only ever existed as preliminary sketches while others include extensive documentation of fully realized projects.
In the early 1990s, a group of artists living in Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, including Geng Jianyi, Chen Yanyin, Jiang Jie, Shi Yong, Kan Xuan, Qian Weikang, Yang Zhenzhong and Zhang Keduan, conducted an array of projects on paper with topics randomly chosen from everyday life, such as a date or a specific spatial angle, volume and temperature, to embrace the concept of randomness. Created by twenty-seven artists from different cities in the late 1990s, Wilderness showcases various artistic explorations of individual feelings about urban space. It takes the form of photographs, project proposals, postcards and sketches of installation plans based on each artist’s specific cultural environment, geographical surroundings and personal background. From 1990 to 1995, the members of New Mark Group collaboratively created five sets of analyses or calculations and bound them into books. The group rejected any romantic, sentimental and subjective forms, devoting itself to forging a non-representational art that utilized numbers, mathematical notations, and logical deductions to articulate its intentions. In To Be or Not to Be: Great Wall Project, artist Wang Jin exploited ice bricks made of Coke, a product of industrialization, to reconnect the ruined ancient Great Wall to address issues of substance and existence. Applying mechanistic design principles from his experience as a lathe operator, Wang Luyan also worked individually to foster his own line of conceptual art in the form of subdued diagrams of imaginary machines and automata to highlight some essential paradoxes of time and being in human society.