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Chinese Apartment Art - from Gao Minglu Archive

This library guide is an overview of the exhibition, "Chinese Apartment Art: Primary Documents from Gao Minglu’s Archive, 1970s-90s."

Intro to Projects on Paper

Exhibition View - Section II

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.

Selected Art Works

Zhang Shengquan (b. 1955-d. 2000)
sketch for Sweeping the Floor
1996

  1. Mop the floor in the museum with special mop on by body
  2. My legs act for power
  3. To change a posture is to have changed a habit

Zhang Shengquan was a Shanxi-based avant-garde artist who used his own body as his primary medium throughout his artistic career. His performances in the 1980s can be seen as a precursor to the often violent and masochistic works done by such artists as Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming in the early 1990s. For Zhang, the body is not only the object to be visualized in meditation through suffering but also a ritualized medium between lived reality and another, transcendent world.

Yang Zhenzhong
Happy Birthday as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994
Black ink on paper (reproductions)
Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive

Following the theme of “November 26th”, Yang Zhenzhong bought a birthday cake and then randomly chose a tombstone in a cemetery of Shanghai on which it was inscribed a person’s birthday as November 26th. He celebrated this moment with the dead person called Zhang Zhengquan as well as several ants. The essence of his performance is the contingency in daily life that involves both self and the other through the random encounter between life and death.

Members of New Mark Group (Chen Shaoping, Wang Luyan, and Gu Dexin), 1990
Photograph (reproductions)
Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive

Statement of the New Mark Group’s methodology, published in a short explanation in 1993:
The process of analysis can be expressed via the following formula: individuals who perform analysis (designated as ai, a2, as, etc.) follow a set of rules of behavior and measurement that they create and agree to obey together, thus entering a state of cooperation (designated as "A" condition). This “A” condition runs throughout the entire process. As the (<“A” condition develops and expands, ai, a2, as, etc...each lose their individuality. The graphic means for carrying out this analytic process is called “measurement.”

Shi Yong (b. 1963)
Mobile Leaps: Twelve Hours, 1994
Installation
Courtesy of the Artist

As his contribution to the project November 26th as a Reason, Shi Yong wandered around Shanghai, his home city, from 8am to 8pm.  Throughout the day he periodically called friends from phone booths, asking each for his or her exact address. He then found the closest phone booth to their apartment and proceeded to call someone else. As part of the documentation of this project he made a map of his meandering route, revealing both anxiety and excitement over the extreme changes occurring in his home city.

Wang Gongxin (b. 1960)
Two Square Meters, 1996
Photograph (reproductions)
Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive

List of Exhibited Items

  1. Wang Luyan, Simultaneous Sawing No. 1-4, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  2. Wang Luyan, Rope No. 1-4, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  3. Wang Luyan, Software No. 1-4, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  4. Wang Luyan, Before the Mirror No. 1-5, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  5. Wang Luyan, Figure No. 1-4, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  6. Wang Luyan, Letter to Gao Minglu about his work, 1991, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  7. Geng Jianyi, English introduction of Building No. 5 1994, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  8. Geng Jianyi, Building No. 5 1994, 1994, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  9. Zhang Shengquan with his friend Zhu Yangguang and others at an exhibition held at artist’s home, 1987, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  10. Zhang Shengquan (b. 1955-d. 2000), Sketch for Sweeping the Floor, 1996, Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  11. Shanghai First Annual International Fax Art Exhibition: Let’s Talk About Money Exhibition Poster, 1996, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  12. Wang Jin, Great Wall: To Be or Not to Be, 1997, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  13. Audience viewing New Mark Group works at the 1989 China: Avant-Garde Exhibition
  14. New Mark Group, Analytical Measurement Description, 1995, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  15. New Mark Group, Analysis Work 1, 1995, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  16. New Mark Group, Analysis Work 2, 1995, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  17. Jiang Jie, Jiang Jie’s Sanitary as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  18. Geng Jianyi, November 26th as a Reason Project, envelope written by Geng Jianyi, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  19. Envelope signed by Participating artists, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  20. Yang Zhenzhong, Happy Birthday as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  21. Zhan Wang (b. 1962), Refurbishing the Ruins, 1994, Performance, Courtesy of the artist
  22. Zhan Wang, Refurbishing the Ruins as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  23. Shi Yong (b. 1963), Mobile Leaps: Twelve Hours, 1994, Installation, Courtesy of the artist
  24. Zhang Keduan, Zhang Keduan’s Bottle as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  25. Chen Yanyin, Chen Yanyin’s Report of Emotional Experimentation as a part of November 26th as a Reason Project, 1994, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  26. Wang Gongxin (b. 1960), Two Square Meters, 1996, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  27. Song Dong, Wilderness Paper Project, 1997, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  28. Song Dong, Transposition of the Central Axis, 1997, Black ink on paper (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  29. Wang Jin, Chinese Dream, 1997, PVC and Mixed Media (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive
  30. Members of New Mark Group (Chen Shaoping, Wang Luyan, and Gu Dexin), 1990, Photograph (reproductions), Courtesy of the Gao Minglu Archive